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Benefit concert funds summer abroad

By Adam Troxtell
On April 26, 2011


Like most students at A&M-Commerce, sophomores Caroline Carlson and Rachel Bailey have spent some of this semester finding out what they will do in the summer. When they finally got the chance to teach English to children in Italy, it left them with only a few months to get the funds to book their trip.

Carlson, a social work major, and Bailey, a journalism-public relations major, are now desperately reaching out to friends, the university and the community for any help.

"It's been really hard, a lot of organization and work, but the community has been really helpful and we've gotten a lot of donations," Carlson said. "Our friends are all so awesome; they just help us. It's great."

Trips abroad are something in both ladies' past. Carlson is from a missionary family that spent the majority of her childhood in Nigeria, while Bailey spent most of last summer on a service project in Louisiana. They both say that is what is driving them to Italy this year.

"I love just going somewhere new, experiencing a new culture," Bailey said. "Caroline loves to travel, she's been to Belize in the past year. Mine was a service project last year. So, we were just thinking what are we going to do this summer; I don't want to waste it sitting around. It literally fell out of thin air."

Carlson's mother told her about this opportunity, and she then told Bailey. Both applied and were accepted at the same time, but that left them with little time to spare.

"From when they accepted us, it is so close to when we have to buy our airfare, and that's why we're having to fundraise so much," Bailey said. "We've paid for everything out of our pocket and we're just trying to raise the rest of it if we can. We're probably about halfway there, because each of us needs about two thousand dollars. We're getting closer, but it's inch-by-inch."

This led to the pair putting on a benefit concert last Tuesday at the President's House with help from the Honors College. Friends of Carlson and Bailey agreed to play free of charge, guests paid a $2 entry fee, and food and drinks were available to buy at the event. Junior Joanna Firth, who is in the pre-veterinary program, played two songs, including an original piece, at the concert.

"I've known Caroline and Rachel for about two years now, and they are really good friends of mine," she said. "I think the fact they are going to Italy and getting that opportunity is really good, so I wanted to help them do that. I think it's definitely for a good cause, and all the kids they will be helping are going to benefit a lot from it."

They have looked to the university for any help, and that did result in some resources and a venue for the benefit concert. Beyond that, Bailey said she has not found anything else from A&M-Commerce or the International Studies Program.

Bailey said she thinks it is becoming more important for people to learn English.

"Something I talked to a guy that made a donation to this about was that a lot of countries in Europe, and Asia too, are starting to bring up their children bilingual," she said. "English is such a prominent language, and with America being such a big forerunner in the business world, a lot of people over there are learning English. I think it's something a lot of parents over there will pay for; their kids to go to a day camp and learn English."

Carlson said she and Bailey will be compensated for their work with the program, and this, along with her view that the best time to travel is when you are a young adult, made this decision easier.

"You're not tied down by family, kids or a full time job," Carlson said. "Not everyone has the desire to travel, but I really do and I think I'm trying to take advantage of it now because now is the time. Honestly, it was an opportunity I saw that wouldn't be totally out of my pocket, because I get paid a little bit. So, I wouldn't be totally in the hole for being able to do what I want to do."

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