Northwestern softball player Kristin Scharkey hit one out of the park last summer, all the way to Rwanda.

With no prior international experience -- and with her parents nervous about her decision to fly solo to a Third World country -- the senior Scharkey arranged for a volunteer teaching assignment and took a summer break from softball workouts to assist children in the African nation.

RHYTHMS OF RWANDA

Learn more about Krisin Scharkey's experiences in Rwanda through her blog, A Summer in Musanze.

Scharkey felt drawn to Rwanda even before crossing its border. A deeply spiritual person, Scharkey was certain God was nudging her toward the war-torn country, particularly after her uncle, Todd Wendorff, related stories from his recent volunteer mission to the nation’s northern Musanze District.

What she found recalibrated her view of the world. A journalism major, she compiled her adventures in a blog and reflected on how the experiences shifted her view of herself and the expectations she carried into her Third World introduction.

“They have such hope for the country, and it’s so incredible to witness,” Scharkey said. "There’s a difference between being poor and being poor in spirit. And Rwandans are not poor in spirit.”