"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
August 30th, 2012
Meet Shannon McNamara, a 19 year old New Jersey native and sophomore at Rice University. Due to her service work and non-profit efforts, Shannon is not your ordinary teenager. In 2008 when she was just 15, she founded the non-profit organization SHARE (Shannon’s After-School Reading Exchange) in Tanzania that provides education and resources to girls. She has been featured in publications like Teen Vogue and has been recognized by public figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. Teentraveltalk recently interviewed Shannon and here is her story.
Through Shannon’s example, it can be seen that service work is a great benefit to children and teenagers who get the experience to partake in it. Shannon noted that many adults seem to think that teenagers are the “ignorant generation” but in fact, many adolescents really do want to make a difference in an area that they are passionate about! For example, her many trips to Tanzania have affected Shannon to keep moving forward with SHARE and widening its realm.
One of the biggest joys is seeing the changes in the girls from year-to-year. They went from quiet, shy, and cautious in 2008 to now lively, smiling, and conversational. Shannon applauds this change and one of the goals of SHARE is to empower these young girls to show them that they are valuable for more than raising children. It really is touching how a few years of reading and education can make such a positive and profound impact on these girls.
Shannon also shared some advice with us about traveling to Africa and service work in general. In regards to Africa, she recommends going with a camera and an open mind. By participating in the rich culture and friendliness that African nations offer, one can get a much fuller and real experience out of a trip.
Overall, in regards to teen-power and non-profit start-up Shannon offered some keen insight. She promoted lots of research about subjects you are passionate about. Get to know a struggling region of the world and really immerse yourself in the culture and shocking facts. For Shannon, learning that in Tanzania, gender inequality is so steep that women re-invest 90% of their income back into families, while men only re-invest 10-20%! Shannon saw the solution to this issue as education, and thus SHARE was born. She advises that one should really take time and volunteer, as it could lead to something fantastic and effective in the future.
To find out more about Shannon, SHARE, and how you can help, visit her website SHAREinafrica.org.