The blossoming humanitarian, a senior at the Weber School in Sandy Springs, spent her vacation teaching English to impoverished schoolchildren in Thailand, among other noble pursuits there.
“It was an incredibly formative trip and I hope to return to Southeast Asia in the future,” said Bortz
Mark the experience as yet another highlight on the 17-year-old’s character-laden resume.
Bortz traveled to Mae Sariang, a “modest” town in Thailand’s Mae Hon Song, back in June.
She lived with native children whose families comprise remote hill tribes — their opportunities for some semblance of formalized education between slim and none.
Bortz, a self-described ambitious optimist, taught English at the Ban Rai and Ban Pong schools. Her eager young charges — Burmese adolescents and Thai children — spanned in age from kindergarten to ninth-graders, the group representing diverse levels of language proficiency.
In the process, an already well-informed worldview gained yet another layer of depth and introspection.
“Through this trip I gained a new perspective on what it means to live simply,” said Bortz. “In building relationships with [the students], I learned about creating friendships across language and cultural barriers … and about the genuine power of positive energy.”
In addition to her classroom duties, Bortz also helped build the village’s first library and donate supplies to a third school with very limited resources — all the while learning about Thai language, culture and religion.
News of Bortz’s Southeast Asian exploits failed to catch those on the Atlanta side of her universe by surprise. That includes Weber English Department Chair Michele Brown.
“Adina is an independent, caring, genuine young woman,” said Brown. “The joy on her face in the pictures [she took there], along with her smiles while speaking of her trip, really tells the story of an adventure of a lifetime.”
What impressed Bortz most about the children she taught was how happy they were even without — and maybe because of being without — the trappings of the more modern world we enjoy stateside.
“She said they seemed content,” Brown said. “It was eye-opening for her.”
Even before Bortz’s noble excursion to Asia, one could argue the teenager’s worldly ways were already on her list of admirable qualities.
Bortz moved from Chile to Atlanta at age 4. In previous years, the aspiring journalist been actively involved with the Save Darfur Coalition and the Global Class.
Aiding a Sudanese mother and daughter through their immigration process and raising funds to help refugees build a school in their village are also counted among Bortz’s laundry list of accomplishments.
So, what does the road ahead hold for the aspiring journalist?
“I hope to return to Southeast Asia and would love to spend some time teaching in the region,” said Karpuj. “Additionally, I hope to become involved with [non-governmental organizations] working in India and Central America.”