If you have had the opportunity to meet Sierra Dirksen, senior from Goessel, then you know she is a nice person, who has a heart of gold. What you may not know is Sierra has a heart for missions as well.
Sierra found her passion for helping refugees while attending Kansas State University (KSU). It started by taking a chance on a mission project in Kenya with the leadership program at KSU.
“The opportunity for Kenya came up after my freshman year, and I had been thinking about doing some service, and I also wanted new experiences,” she said.
While in Kenya, Sierra felt her eyes were opened to a new world, which she knew little about. However, she not only wanted to help but needed to help.
“In Kenya, we went to this center and we thought we were going to be teachers teaching English. When we got there, we found out that they had enough teachers, and so we started what is called a drop-in center, where youth who are still living on the streets were able to come during the day, and we taught life skills and job skills courses,” Sierra said. “We spent our mornings doing agricultural work for crops for them to sell for an income.”
During Christmas Break in 2012, Sierra had another opportunity to go to Kenya. This time she helped set up a program for the youth enrolled in the program to find sponsors so they could have a chance at an education.
Her love for refugees is not a passing thought, it is a mission. Case in point, Sierra has also done a similar mission project with refugees in Sri Lanka.
Sierra’s love for refugees didn’t stop when she transferred to Bethel her junior year. In fact, Sierra has made refugee work a part of her senior seminar. Earlier this year, however, she had a disappointment and a minor set back.
“I was going to be working with refugees in Wichita, but that population has moved on so that’s not happening anymore,” she said. “Now I am trying to figure out if I am going to continue with the same project or go another direction.”
However, she remains optimistic and looks forward to her future of working on her seminar. To help with her seminar, she will be spending time at the Chicago Institute.
“I wanted an opportunity to do my placement in an area that had a bigger population. Wichita has some refugees, but not enough to get a good feel for it. Chicago has two agencies that I have been looking at, both in refugee resettlement.”
With the two agencies in Chicago, Sierra has a lot of opportunities and some big decisions to make.
“I’m not sure if I am going to try and find new people, or do a completely different seminar and start from scratch when I get to Chicago. But I do want to work with refugees in a resettlement,” Sierra said.
Sierra mentioned that she was not sure what started her passion for helping refugees. In fact, she started her time at KSU as an interior design major.
“I realized that interior design and interior decorating were two different things,” she said. “Interior design was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Now, however, Sierra is a social work major, and she hopes to get many opportunities to help others who need it the most. Her passion for helping and her heart for missions have no end in sight.
“Once I had been overseas and had my eyes opened to different cultures and some of the social injustices of the world. I knew I wanted to take a different direction and career path,” she said. “More of a helping profession to those who needed my help.”