Impact of Service Learning Lasts a Lifetime

Central College Abroad alum David Vonnahme is a prime example of what it looks like to catch the travel bug. Vonnahme studied through Central’s London program in fall 2007, and right away he knew he wanted more. The proceeding fall he decided to study abroad for a second semester—this time in Merida. This experience ended up being a pivotal point in his life, and he recalls a certain service opportunity in particular. Resident director Valerie Grimsley encouraged Vonnahme to volunteer teaching an English literature course, and he claims the rest is history.

After graduating in 2010, Vonnahme went on to work for Wells Fargo in Des Moines where he maintained a connection to his study abroad experience by volunteering as an English teacher at a local church. Yet this wasn’t quite enough. In January 2012, he dropped everything to move to Rio de Janeiro, a destination he’d been dreaming of for years. He spent four months there, volunteering and traveling. In August of the same year, Vonnahme joined The Center for Teaching and Learning in China (CTLC) where he began teaching English at a public high school in Shenzhen. He continues to work for CTLC today as an associate on-site coordinator.

As with most travel bug cases, the itch hasn’t stopped. During his time off work for the Chinese Spring Festival, Vonnahme explored other parts of Asia and the Middle East, starting with a few weeks in India before moving on to Jordan and Israel. While in Jordan, he visited the historic city of Petra, a destination that would cap off a significant quest. At the age of 25, Vonnahme has now seen all seven of the New Age Wonders of the World.

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Vonnahme taking a leap of faith off the Macau Tower in the People's Republic of China.
Vonnahme taking a leap of faith off the Macau Tower in the People's Republic of China.