A hitchhiker’s guide to charity

Published On:
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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Welcome to college. Your destiny is now in your hands.

It is a feeling of both jubilant exhilaration and overwhelming terror that consumes a college student as he or she ponders what path to take along the meandering road of life.

Do you choose to absorb the wisdom of academia from your studies, or to live life to the fullest with a pint of lager in hand? Perhaps you crave fame and fortune in your academic pursuits, or yearn to help yourself so that you in turn may help others.

Sophomore Bryan Dodson seeks all of the above.

Bryan is an honors student studying literature in the hope of one day becoming a schoolteacher.

However, despite his tall, lanky figure and magnificent orange beard, you are unlikely to spot him walking around campus in Arizona … or anywhere on this continent for that matter.

Instead, Bryan is in Scotland for the semester; spending his mornings at the University of Edinburgh taking courses in Scottish and Gaelic literature and his afternoons and evenings touring the local historic sites, pubs and dance halls with his peers.

“Edinburgh is beautiful,” he said via e-mail. “It’s all buildings at least a hundred years old, cobblestone streets, and historical landmarks from centuries past.”

Bryan is also a member of The Hitching Society, a local branch of Link Community Development (LCD), which for the last two decades has hosted the world’s largest hitch for charity.

“Every spring, students in the society make their way to either Morocco or Prague, raising awareness and money for schools in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Bryan said.

Together with Katie Morgan, a fellow society member, Bryan plans to gradually backpack to Prague over his spring break, absorbing the local cultures and sights and hosting fundraising events along the way.

“Everything donated goes towards increasing access to education for impoverished communities in South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia and others,” he said.

Bryan has personally pledged to raise 350 pounds for the charity, roughly the equivalent of $500. He has until June 15th to accomplish this goal, and hopes he can raise much more. People can donate on the JustGiving.com/BryanDodson Web site.

Over 5,500 people have taken part in the Hitch since it started in 1992, raising more than 2.5 million pounds for LCD’s projects in sub-Saharan Africa, according the organization’s Web site.

“I personally believe that education is one of the most important factors for getting along in today’s world,” Bryan said. “By increasing the quality of learning possibilities for African children, we can help them gain valuable leadership and economic skills.”

At the end of the day we are all here at ASU to learn.

We are here to attend lectures, write five-page essays, fill in little round bubbles with No. 2 graphite, and at the end of it all, get a little piece of paper that will hopefully translate into a job doing … whatever.

But as any upperclassman (or even wizened second-semester freshman) could tell you, it is often the knowledge gained outside of the classroom setting that teaches us the most about who we are as individuals.

Heck, maybe we can even make the world a better place in the process.

Hal believes the best stories are those experienced firsthand. Tell him yours at hscohen@asu.edu