Enrollment counselor builds relationships
Bluffton enrollment counselor builds relationships on campus and abroad
As a volunteer for World Vision, a humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization, Holly Metzger ’05 is living out the values instilled during her Bluffton education.
“The discussions we had in classes here, the cross-cultural experience and the whole Bluffton package just really encouraged my passion and drive to be part of something bigger,” said Metzger, now an enrollment counselor at Bluffton University.
Metzger started volunteering as a Word Vision child ambassador about eight years ago. Her role is to connect vulnerable children from around the world to local sponsors. In the last two years, she has also traveled internationally to experience the transformative work being done. Last year, Metzger spent 10 days in Bangladesh learning about World Vision’s child protection programs which are focused on child labor, early marriage and human trafficking. This spring, she spent 12 days in Kenya learning about the need for clean water resources.
Kids in the Kenyan communities she visited walk up to nine miles each day for water, which is also routinely contaminated and dangerous to access.
“We saw how if you can provide someone with clean water, there’s so much more that comes from that,” said Metzger. “Kids can go to school because they’re not spending the day walking to get water so education becomes possible. If you can educate a child, it totally changes their opportunities in life. Children no longer need to be married at a young age, and it breaks the cycle of poverty.”
Metzger says World Vision staff stay with a community for an average of 15 years, helping the village develop access to water, education and medicine.
“It’s something the community takes ownership of, World Vision just facilitates the work,” explained Metzger. “It’s about empowering people and the whole approach is really sustainable.”
During these experiences, Metzger was able to meet two of the five children her family personally sponsors. In Kenya, she met Nathan and his mother Evelyn, a single mother of eight.
“I wasn’t sure how the interaction would go. I didn’t speak the language,” explained Metzger. “But she told me, ‘I can’t tell you the joy that filled my soul when I heard that another mother across the world found value in my son.’ How do you respond to that? I froze and cried.”
Metzger’s passion for international development took root when she was a Bluffton Spanish major with minors in TESOL and missions. She spent a semester in Honduras and graduated from Bluffton with “a bigger worldview and a stronger passion for appreciating diversity and understanding differences.”
While in Honduras, she worked with missionaries and saw how they built relationships within the community. The importance of relationships is a common thread she has taken from that experience, to volunteerism at World Vision to her work at Bluffton.
“What I learned was no matter how different somebody is from us, no matter how far away somebody lives from us, their life matters and is valuable to us,” said Metzger.