Each year, students of the Global Perspectives class at Stelly’s Secondary School take what they’ve learned and apply it – on the other side of the world.
While a typical Grade 12 student in North America spends their last year of high school concerned with their own future, those in Chris McDonald and Kim Koenig’s class spend three weeks traveling to Tanzania to build a dormitory for female secondary students in the city of Katesh.
“I think it’s going to be a very humbling experience,” says Sierra Newlove, one of the 40 students participating in the trip. “The dormitory they have there is kind of just four walls and it’s collapsing.”
To finance the venture, Stelly’s host their annual Global Gala on Nov. 29 at the school (1627 Stelly’s X Road) where a $15 ticket provides entrance to the event where food, entertainment and complimentary childcare await.
A silent auction is also planned, where in years past, close to $30,000 has been raised for previous class trips to places like India, Nepal and Fiji.
Every dollar from the evening goes directly to purchasing materials to build the dormitory – a necessity for young female students at risk of sexual assault while traveling upwards of 20 kilometres to school each day in the African country.
“Politically in Tanzania it’s really unfortunate to see that girls who end up getting pregnant, are not allowed to go back to school,” explains fellow student Hunter Lastiwka. “It’s important for them to live safely at the school.”
There was a lot of excited energy in the room when McDonald and Koenig announced this year’s location, says Lastiwka, who is also looking forward to learning the culture of an African country.
“It’s a place most people don’t end up travelling to,” he says. “Life in Tanzania is a lot different than a West Coast Canadian lifestyle.”
Students self-fund their own travel when they depart in March, a collaborative effort with the Canadian Harambee Education Society (CHES) and the local government.
“We have so much here where girls have the right to an education,” Newlove says. “Just being able to provide that simple step for them to begin their education is going to be very impactful for both us and the girls who will now attend the school.”
Tickets are available through any Stelly’s student, at the front office of the school or at Stellys.sd63.bc.ca.
In a developing country, $30,000 goes a long way, Lastiwka points out. “As much as this trip is us going there to help, I think each one of us is also going to be helped.”