Andre Waschka ‘13 has spent the last two summers working with landmine victims in the Croatian town of Rovini on the Adriatic coast. The camp, coordinated by the Norwegian People’s Aid Foundation and the U.S. Department of State, provides activities designed to boost self-esteem, expose children to cultural and athletic opportunities, and introduce participants to others who experience similar physical and psychological problems.
“I think I get more from these kids than they get from me,” says Waschka. “Despite their difficult lives, their attitude is always positive and they help put things in perspective.”
After attending a concert organized by camp participants in 2007, Waschka knew he wanted to be a part of the healing process for the child victims and applied for a position on the staff. Being bilingual in Serbo-Croatian and English, he offered to create a conversational English program for the following summer, and was hired.
As a volunteer, Waschka meets daily with participants and helps them learn the English language. He uses trips to places such as the beach and local restaurants to introduce new vocabulary and keep the learning atmosphere enjoyable. Waschka also volunteers with music workshops, where he plays guitar and works with the children to compose original songs, and assists with theater and basketball programs.
“Hopefully, the children will use the English they learned and look at the United States in a new light through our brief friendship,” says Waschka.
After he graduates from NC State with a degree in applied mathematics, Waschka intends to earn his Ph.D. and become a university professor.