Our volunteers are the life blood of Oysters & Pearls. We hope you enjoy hearing/reading about these amazing people and their experiences with us.

Marilyn Bland
Dallas, TX

Read about Marilyn

My Experience during Exploration 2012

Amy, Volunteer with Oysters & PearlsIt is extremely difficult to sum up such a rich experience on one page. This trip changed my life! I slowly sank deeper and deeper into Uganda and the wonderful relationships I formed there, that by the time I had to leave it felt like I was leaving my true home.

Arriving in Uganda I had no clue what to expect. …


Senior at Fordham College for Exploration 2012

T.J., Volunteer with Oysters & PearlsSometimes I play this game with myself where I try to remember an entire day out of the fifty that I spent in Uganda. I try to remember everything I did and everything that happened to me from the time I awoke to the minute I fell asleep. But, especially as it slowly gets further and further into my past, I cannot. I cannot remember all of the things that people said to me or all the places that I went or even all the names of the people that I met. But I will always remember the way I felt while I was there.


Stanford Junior Summer 2011 from Dallas, TX

Angela, Volunteer with Oysters & PearlsI logged more miles during my junior year of college than most people do in a lifetime: I spent 3 10-week quarters with my school’s programs in Australia, Chile, and Oxford. However, going to Uganda for the summer before truly spoiled me for other experiences I would have for the rest of my study abroad. I had no basis for comparison, and I doubt I will ever experience anything as real or raw. My friend who spent a year in South Africa shared with me this simile: “…going to Africa is like grabbing the electric cord of life and holding on as long as you can.” And hold on I did.


Uganda: A Lesson in Humility and Community

Kenna, Volunteer with Oysters & PearlsI went to Uganda because I didn’t know what else to do. I had just left college halfway through my junior year, and I was doing that millennial floundering that so many of us are familiarizing ourselves with. I have the excellent privilege of having Sandra as a mother, and so I was invited to join her on the 2011 trip, despite not having all that much to offer (at least compared to the others). We had spent time in Africa before- a trip to Tanzania in 2006 had cemented my love of international travel- but I knew that this time would be different. Before we left, I remember meeting some other people involved with the program at a Starbucks in North Dallas. It was a really hot day and I didn’t know what was being spoken about, but I still had a hard time containing my excitement. My idea of what my six weeks would look like was ambiguous at best, but I knew that Sandra’s endless capability for networking and planning would assuage my intangible fear. The plane ride was incredible and long- I spent hours looking out the window and remember seeing an ocean of sand swallowed by lush green mountains, which I took to be Ethiopia. I fell asleep and drifted through the Entebbe Airport, snapping back into consciousness in a hot parking lot.