How One Teenager Can Change the World By: Riley Ferguson

My name is Riley Ferguson.  I live in Cape Girardeau Missouri and I am sophomore at Cape Central High School. In July 2010, I traveled with my parents and a team from Cape to Swaziland, Africa to serve. I have a true love for children, so I knew that going to Africa would be something that I would enjoy.  I had heard so many stories about how many children are orphaned and left alone. But I never realized the need until I arrived that first day at the local church where we were serving.  The first day we got to our church we learned that a 10 year old girl had just died of HIV/AIDS.  We met her grandmother and went into the hut that the little girl had lived in with her grandmother.  Each day we returned to serve at our church more children came.  The first day we only had a few, the second day we had more and by the third day we had over 200 children there to see us.  I got to teach games to the children and give out clothing that we had brought from home.  Each child was so grateful for each item we gave them. They didn’t fight or argue over what each had and they were so proud of their new belongings.

Because of my service in Swaziland, I was nominated to attend the International Teens Change the World Conference in Taiwan this past December.  There were teens from South Korea, Japan, and Swaziland there.  Each teen had to give a speech talking about what they do to change the world; I spoke about my time in Swaziland.  It was really cool to see what other teens from all around the world are doing to change the world.  I was able to meet many of the students and teachers from the other countries.  It is so cool to have friends from around the world.  The conference was held at an all boy’s high school so one day we got to go in to a couple classes.  School there is so different. There school hours are a lot longer than ours and schooling is very strict. I stayed with a host family whose son goes to the high school where the conference was at.  Each day they made us traditional meals the food was different but good and I got to learn how to use chopsticks! Our host family was so welcoming and even though they didn’t speak English well we knew felt so welcomed, our host mom even cried when we left.

I never would have thought when I went to Swaziland in July that I would end up in Taiwan in December. But God has great plans for us all, even a 16 year old from Missouri.  These experiences have taught me a lot about myself and about other cultures; I had a wonderful time in Taiwan and would love to go back some day.  But for now I will be returning to Swaziland this July to serve at the church I worked at last year. I can’t wait to go back and see all my friends.

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