Global Understanding Series wraps up with student Marisa Grimes sharing international volunteer experiences

Auburn University student and Ocean View native Marisa Grimes is greeted by children at Bright Future orphanage in Ghana. SOURCE SUBMITTED
December 30, 2012

Marisa Grimes might only be 20 years old, but the Ocean View native has gained worldly experience beyond her years that made her the perfect speaker to cap off a successful and engaging fall Global Understanding Series at Delaware Tech's Owens Campus.

Grimes, currently an international business major at Auburn University, has had a passion for volunteering and traveling since she was just 4 years old. Once she turned 14 she was able to talk her parents into letting her travel to Africa, and ever since then she has been able to combine both of her passions.

“I’m so happy with my life and I think that’s because I do what I love, and I love helping others,” Grimes said.

What has made the biggest impact on her life is Bright Future orphanage in Ghana. Her visit there caused her to start the non-profit Building a Bright Future, so she could raise funds necessary for food, healthcare and education, as well as a larger building to accommodate all of the children.

“I am an only child and have no siblings, but I have 103 children calling me ‘Auntie’ back in Ghana,” Grimes said.

Her other community service and volunteer projects include pairing her high school with a school in Kenya and raising funds for 400 children to purchase a school uniform and a relief effort at Auburn University to assist tornado victims in Mississippi and Alabama in 2011. During that relief effort, Grimes and her friends used a 26-foot Penske truck and filled it with supplies they gathered from pickup points in areas as far north as Pennsylvania and New Jersey and as far south as South Carolina.

“It was absolutely incredible and really hit home for me that people could pull together when bad things happen,” Grimes said.

Her most recent adventures occurred this past spring and summer. The first was a Semester at Sea, in which she took a full semester of classes while traveling on a ship to Dominica, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Japan. She got to make a return trip to the orphanage during the stop in Ghana.

“My goal was to do something for someone at every single country we visited,” Grimes said. “You see the good and the bad of these countries and I think the balance is what makes them great.”

Once she returned from her Semester at Sea, Grimes was selected by Coca-Cola as an Outstanding Teen in Community Service and was asked to be a torch bearer for the Olympics. She flew to England and ran the torch through Ellsbury. She also made sure to spread the word about Building Bright Future whenever she was interviewed.

“I thought, ‘How could I make this not about me but about other people?'” Grimes said. “I ran it for those 103 children in Ghana.”

For more information on Building Bright Future, visit

The Global Understanding Series features programs and workshops free to the community, Delaware Tech students and staff. Presentations and performances are generally 60 minutes long, and provide a personal perspective on a global issue, region, culture, or people.

Events already scheduled for 2013 include international speaker Carlos Andres Gomez in February, a showing of the film “Schooling the World” in March and a Global to Local Service Project – Points of Contact: China in April. In addition there will be presentations about Study Abroad trips to Denmark and Costa Rica, and the college celebrates International Day in March. Specific dates, times and locations, and additional events, will be made available at


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