MEET MEGAN PARROTT: she sought an opportunity to serve and learned that true joy comes in the pursuit of service.
What made you decide to go to Malawi?
I have always had a desire to go to another country and serve others, no matter what capacity that might be. Every few years my college had the opportunity available to students to go on a service-learning study abroad trip to Malawi, Africa. This trip immediately appealed to me because not only was it not the ‘traditional’ study abroad experience, but we would be directly immersed into the African culture as we worked, learned, and lived in the villages. Our job while we were there was to put our journalism skills to the test by finding and creating multi-media stories that a local nonprofit we were partnering with could use. It was a dream come true to put my passion for journalism to work with my love of storytelling and serving.
What’s one thing about Malawi that surprised you?
Everything about this trip surprised me. It was the first time that I had been on a plane, my first time out of the country, my first time in another culture. I had NO IDEA what to expect, but the hospitality, acceptance, and pure joy that I received from the people of Malawi was phenomenal. I never felt like I didn’t belong or that the language barrier was stopping me from connecting with others. Everyone was so immensely proud to share their lives and culture with us, welcome us into their homes. If I had to pick one thing that stood out from all of that, it would be the fact that Malawians are so giving and generous to others no matter how little they have. Malawi absolutely lives up to their name as the “warm heart of Africa.”
While on your trip, you heard many stories – stories about healthcare, vulnerable children, and women’s rights. What’s your biggest take away from the stories heard?
Through all of the stories I heard, from healthcare to vulnerable children and women’s rights, what I learned the most is to keep persevering no matter what, never take my privileges for granted, and love with an open heart. We heard so many stories about healthcare, even participating in a healthcare clinic, and I now realize that while my country has its faults, I can quickly get to a real doctor without walking for miles and waiting the entirety of a day and only receiving the bare minimum. Through the stories of vulnerable children and the women in the villages, I learned that I should never stop going, dreaming, or hoping for more when given an impossible situation. From the people of Malawi, I learned to love and give freely without even thinking about it, letting infinite kindness become second nature.
What has going and serving taught you about love?
When making my shirts, I decided to use the quote ‘Love speaks every language’ because I thought it was popular and that everyone could relate to it and know what it meant. Wow, oh wow did I learn the solid truth behind that statement. My idea of love got turned upside down on its head, and I will never be the same. In Malawi, I was purely loved by people who had never even met me, and they just wanted to give; give their time, their food, their smiles, their joy, no matter what they did or didn’t have materially. As a person in another country that does have a little more to offer others, I now realize how much I can actually give to others when before I thought I had nothing.
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about serving others?
I wish everyone knew how joyful you could be in the pursuit of being a servant. There is just pure joy in the act of service. You don’t have to have anything, not even money, to take the time to help someone else. You don’t have to speak the same language; you don’t have to believe in the same religion, be from the same country/culture/socioeconomic status. All people want is your acceptance, love, and time, and that’s something that everyone around the world has the capacity to offer.