At a recent
meeting of the Brandywine school board, the 16-year-old
Brandywine High junior was presented with the
of Community Award in recognition of her many volunteer
the past year. While 380 hours of service is, in
itself, impressive, what stood out in the recounting
of her record is that about a third of those hours
were spent in India.
"I got interested
in India during my world history course and I wanted to find out
more for myself," she said during a subsequent interview with
For Folt, finding
out means more than just looking at things through a tourist's
eyes. Even an educational tour doesn't do it. What she wanted,
she explained, was an opportunity to share the life of an
That way, "you're
not just a visitor -- you don't just stay in a hotel," she said.
"You live where they live. You assimilate into their culture."
sojourn in Rajastan last summer wasn't intended to be a
vacation. And it wasn't. She taught English and American history
to elementary school children; helped construct a basketball
court for the school; helped put a roof on outdoor bathrooms;
and "built inter-cultural relationships in general."
Folt went with a group of teens as part
of the Putney School 'Seeds of Progress' program. That is a
wide-ranging summer community service program organized by the
private boarding school near Battleboro, Vt.
open to applicants from around the country. According to a
description of the program posted on the school's website, "students
learn from their labor and commitment not only that service is
fun and educational, but that they can make a difference."
That sums up Holt's approach to volunteer activities. "I like to
help out," she said.
And that applies to home as well as abroad.
She will move up from vice president to president of the
Brandywine High Key Club next academic year. To belong to the
club, a student must give at
Folt with a
group of Indian elementary school children.
50 hours of service. About 15 at the school qualify each year.
The club itself undertakes several community service activities
during the year..
Finding opportunities to serve is not difficult, Folt said.
While doing one thing, a volunteer frequently finds out about
other things that need doing, she explained. "The more places I
went to, the more places I found."
Her local venues have included Rockwood Mansion Museum, Foulk
Manor nursing home, Delaware Nature Society, American Cancer
Society's 'Relay for Life', and Jewish Family Services of
Along with those activities she manages to live a very
active life. She is an 'A' student with an interest in life
sciences, particularly biology. She is undecided at this
point between directing her college years toward a career in
research or go on to medical school. Cornell, where she'll
is her first choice for college. At Brandywine she also is
on the lacrosse team and runs cross-country.
How does she find time to fit it all into her days? "The
truth is I don't sleep much," she said.