Cutters assistant gives back big in Africa

For Cutters assistant editor Kristin Gerhart, volunteering is an important part of her life. Whether it’s working at PAWS Chicago or editing pro-bono PSAs, she is always giving time and talent.

But it wasn’t until a trip to the Dominican Republic, when she wandered beyond the resort gates and witnessed poverty that she knew she had to do more.

“I wanted to make a difference and I didn’t know where to start,” the 24-year old Columbia College graduate said.

After months of research, Gerhart found a four-week English teaching program for pre-school age orphans and children of impoverished parents in Moshi, Tanzania, through Cross Cultural Solutions, a non-profit that pairs volunteers with participating countries.

She put her deposit down and cleared her schedule at Cutters. Eager to support Gerhart’s efforts, they allowed her to leave in November for the month-long stay.

Gerhart’s work didn’t stop in the classroom she was assigned to. Once word spread about her unique editing talent, she was asked to help with special projects that would leave an impression on the community long after she was gone.

“There was a secondary school that had a small camera,” she said. “They were teaching the students how to form micro businesses, so they asked me to write a curriculum on how to shoot and produce video. They were going to start teaching it that following Monday.”

She also edited several pieces, including the student’s graduation ceremony for the Women’s Education and Economic Center, a Tanzanian organization that provides job training to help women establish small businesses.