The Cougar Volunteer Spirit is Alive and Well in Charleston

This blog is a project by public relations students at the College of Charleston. Since its inception in 2004, the Cougar Volunteer Spirit has showcased dozens of students who give of their time, effort and hearts to helping those in need. They don't do it for recognition like this, but their stories need to be shared because of their admirable qualities of character and caring. "Be the change you want to see in the world," Mahatma Ghandi said. That's the Cougar Volunteer Spirit that roars through these pages. Click on the side photos to see the articles. See photos of the students who wrote the pieces at the end. Thanks!

Friday, April 1, 2011

LEVI VONK- Hola Amigos Program

Helping Establish Literacy One Person at a Time
By Jessica Raymond
Levi Vonk pictured during his summer internship
The rigorous class schedule of a College of Charleston Honor’s College student requires dedication, diligence, and hard work. With a schedule this strenuous, it is impossible to think that there is time for little else. However, Levi Vonk, currently a sophomore, has found the necessary balance to complete his school work and give back tremendously to the Charleston community.
Volunteer Activities: During the summer of 2010, Vonk worked with the Student Workers Action with Farmworkers in North Carolina, a nonprofit organization that “promotes the fair treatment of farmworkers within the southeast.” He was partnered with the Migrant Education Program for the Buncombe County School System, where he received the names and addresses of Hispanic migrant families that have moved into the area, allowing him to go to their houses to tutor their children during the summer, as well as assist the parents in learning basic English skills or English phrases that would assist them in American life.
About Levi Vonk..
Hometown: Kingsland, Ga.
Major: English
Expected Graduation Date: May 2013
Why did you choose to become involved in this particular project?
I believed that everyone deserved a fair and equal opportunity to learn how to read and speak English, especially if they truly want to achieve “the American Dream.” Children especially have a tough time as it is moving to a new country and by learning how to read English, I think that makes the transition much easier.
Pick two words to describe you:
I’d probably have to go with hardworking and friendly.
What were your experiences with the Student Workers Action with Farmworkers Program?
I had the chance to meet so many hardworking charismatic people. These people want so badly to succeed in the United States and they work so hard every day of their lives to make that happen. To see what these people much endure on a daily basis is truly an eye opening experience.
Explain the beginnings of the Hola Amigos program
It was tough at first, because I had to find the necessary support to get the class started. Once people saw what I was trying to do, they jumped right on board. The students that attend the classes were so excited and eager to learn English.
What are your recommendations for someone trying to start a program as you did?
Don’t give up! Also, you have to stay committed to what you want to achieve. If you have a specific goal in mind, stick with it until it happens. It may seem hard to start a program or support a cause, but as long as you work hard, you’ll be happy with the outcome.
What are your plans following graduation?
I am honestly not too sure yet. I still have a couple of years, but as of right now? I will continue with the Hola program and possibly plan on attending graduate school and pursuing a degree in law.
For more information on the Hola Amigos Program, please contact Levi Vonk at For information on the Student Workers Action with Farmworkers Program, visit or email questions to

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