Aurora Sandell’s Next Stop: PPI-NI

New PPI-NI intern Aurora Sandell takes a break with several teammates at a recent twinning.

PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PPI-NI) is lucky to currently enjoy two great intern placements who are making everyone else’s lives easier both in and outside of the office. Last week, we heard from one of them, Carlos Alvarez, while this week we hear from the other: Aurora Sandell. Here words are below:

I am excited to get first-hand experience with the PPI-NI team. The internship came about through my graduate school, the Trinity College School of Ecumenics in Belfast. I’m eager to develop a better understanding of my new community and learn from kids who grow up and in this area.

I was born in Traverse City, Michigan and moved to Fort Myers, Florida when I was about 16 years old. I stayed in Florida to do my undergraduate degree in international studies, with a minor in art history, at the University of North Florida. I enjoy playing soccer, sailing, and jogging, even though I’m not very fast and I usually don’t go very far.

During university I was able to study abroad for a semester in Stirling, Scotland and travel a little around Europe. When I returned to Florida I enrolled in a class that took a trip to Ghana, which made an important impact in my understanding of aid work and the infrastructure of developing countries. While I was there, our group met a team of two Ghanaians who traveled around their country and taught team work and cooperation through sports and team-building activities to local school children. I will always remember their enthusiasm and the belief that helping students to have healthy interactions with one another could change their lives. After I graduated, I realized I wanted to do nongovernmental organisation (NGO) work overseas and so applied within a non-profit organization for a volunteer position.

After some evaluation, I was sent to China as an English teacher and lived in the cities of Qujing and Baoshan, which are located in the province of Yunnan. I stayed there for approximately 2 years and was then offered a different position within Concordia Welfare and Education Foundation (CWEF); this is the title of the NGO I worked for in the region of Asia. After two years of teaching, I was sent off to Cambodia where I became a service learning coordinator. In Cambodia I helped to organize and carry out service projects for volunteers and foreign visitors.

The Cambodian people were really wonderful to work with and the experience changed my life, but after approximately four years of living in Asia, I knew I needed a break. In the end I decided to return to school for a master’s degree in order to help understand and place some context around my time in Asia. Once again I am thrilled to be working as a volunteer for a community group that strives for understanding and harmony through its actions and commitments. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn, and I can’t wait for what the rest of the year holds for me!


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