We’re excited to introduce you to Sarah Sterling, the newest member of the Hug It Forward team! After building her own bottle school, and volunteering with Hug It Forward for many months to support other communities building bottle schools, we finally persuaded Sarah to join our team full time!
How did you hear about Hug It Forward?
I was researching an alternative method for building a classroom in my local school in El Salvador and came across an article of another Peace Corps volunteer doing a bottle school project in Guatemala with the nonprofit Hug It Forward.
What made you decide to join Hug It Forward full time?
After starting and completing an entire bottle school project myself, I really got to see how the organization operates from inside and out and felt a real connection between the people who work with Hug It Forward and the impact of the work that they do. Seeing my community come together for the first time without a thought to religious or political differences really made me see how important these kinds of projects are not only for education and the environment, but also for community development as a whole.
What’s your role in Hug It Forward?
My role is as a liaison between Peace Corps volunteers, or any other person/organization who might want to work with Hug It Forward or do a bottle school project of their own, and the organization itself, Hug It Forward. I also help with the odds and ends that come with helping to run an international nonprofit, carrying out research and implementing systems to make things run more smoothly.
What’s your favorite thing about bottle schools?
My favorite thing about bottle schools is the empowerment aspect. My bottle school project was able to break gender roles in a society where women usually are meant to work only in the house. Being able to build a classroom together really made the community realize how important every member of the community really is and what they can accomplish when they work together as one.
What are you most excited about for the next year?
I am really excited to go to Guatemala and see a voluntourism trip in action. I think it will be like re-living my own project that I did in El Salvador, but more importantly, I will be able to see and meet the communities I have been helping remotely from the States for the first time! I’m also very excited to see where bottle schools go next, outside of Guatemala and who knows where in the world that will be!
How do you think we can change the world?
I really believe that any small group of people, no matter where they are, as long as they have the passion and conviction to make a change that will better the world for present and future generations can change the world. It’s the only thing that really has had an impact over the course of history. We can’t sit back and wait for governments and large corporations to make a change. The change has to come from grassroots movements with respect and love for all people and things at the very center of everything.