Brigadier Spotlight - Kristie Vahle

December 30, 2015

Kristie is a loyal Mizzou Global Brigade member who is studying Biology. She loves to travel and serve which Global Brigades allows her to do. She plans on serving with the Peace Corps in 2016. Kristie currently serves on the Executive Board as a Program Director for the January Medical Brigade to Western Panama. During the 2014-2015 school year she served as the  Co-President of the Mizzou Global Brigades chapter and traveled to Ghana on a Water brigade through Mizzou. 


Kristie's favorite memory from her Global Brigade trips was from the Water Brigade


During that brigade they witnessed the completion of a water system that had been worked on by hundreds of students and several schools. The community had seen the project and participated in the work of planning and creating the water system for almost a year. No one in the community had ever had running water in their home. At the end of the week, once the water system was complete there was a mass celebration. The entire community of over 500 came out to celebrate. "As they turned on the water for the first time and witnessed children playing in the fresh clean water I became incredibly humbled. Never before had I understood the value and power of clean water, but watching the communities members reaction and knowing how many illnesses would be eradicated because of the water I understood." 


One of  Kristie's favorite memories made on the Water brigade during lunch one day. They had worked throughtout the morning digging trenches in 100 degree weather and were all exhausted by lunch, but the group always kept up a positive attitude. Lunch time was always a time of rest before they continued into the heat of the day. When Trevor went to get his second, double-stack PB&J they all understood why. It was just one of those days. But when a chicken came out of a nearby house and ran directly through Trevor's lap and stomped onto his sandwich it was not only hilarious but the epitome of their exhaustion and delirium. 


What kind of realizations did you rmake while on your brigade trips?

"Through brigades I have been able to better understand Global Brigades's mission and vision. It is not through a group of students coming down and "helping" communities that change is made. If that were the case then the change would not be sustainable. Rather it is through partnership with communities and working with them to empower them. Because Global Brigades is able to enable community leaders to manage water systems, microfinance banks, and healthcare systems in their communities, the change is lasting a year round. This is what Global Brigades is about and why I align so closely with the work they do."


Advice for future brigadiers? 

"Spend time practicing the language! It will be a huge aid to increasing the amount of interaction you have with community members. And also value those interactions because there is a great chance they can teach you more than you can teach them."


Is there anything funny that happened on the brigade? 

"One thing that just makes me smile during brigs is that attraction children have to stickers. When we bring stickers to use in our mobile medical clinics the children flock to them. And they place them anywhere and everywhere. I always know which children have been at the clinic a while by how many stickers they have stuck on their faces."



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