When reading the blogs and posts online, I've noticed that these amazing people are in far off countries truly connecting to and affecting the world around them. I have a friend who has the same passion and fearlessness as these people; she visited India to volunteer in schools last summer and the summer before she spent time in Morocco to experience their culture, schooling, and way of life. To me, this is brave. Not only does she travel the globe on her own, but she spends her 'vacations' immersing herself in the lives of others. When she returns home, back to our school, she has not only affected those she visited, but she is going to enrich the lives of the students she is about to teach with her vast experiences.
When the earthquake happened in Haiti, I wanted to help. When the earthquake happened in Chile, I wanted to help. When I learned of the drastic water shortage in Ethiopia, I wanted to help. As we get older, we come to realize things about ourselves; truths. I'm not going to travel the world. I will see places, mostly tourist spots. I've been to New York, Vegas, LA, and Mexico. None of these were about volunteering or 'doing more'. In the future, when I travel, it likely won't be to areas that have been dealt devastating blows. But here is the other truth that I've realized upon getting older, teaching longer, and having my own children; we can make a difference somewhere else, right here. And the opportunities to do so, are endless. Our school is a great example of this. In the last school year, the students raised money for Haiti, Chile, and Ethiopia. In addition to raising money to help with relief efforts or clean drinking water, the students began to realize that there's a pretty big world around them. Not that many of them don't already know. Many of the students at our school have been to more countries than I have. However, most of those travels are about soaking up a culture and history and just having a good time. When we did a fundraiser for Ethiopia, it amazed me how much the students connected with the cause. In this awareness and money raising effort, the students were able to compare their lives to those of kids their age in Ethiopia. It affected them. It mattered to them. They carried cases of water from the school to the field and many remarked that they couldn't have imagined carrying that load, or more, for half of the day. They knew that children in Ethiopia had to do just that to get only marginally acceptable water.
In the end, I was thrilled that we raised money. I was also very excited about the staff and students enthusiasm, commitment, and willingness. But, I think the best part, is that it showed me how easy it is to make a difference both in our community and in others by simply putting in the effort. We came together as a school community. The local community contributed many donations to make our fundraiser a success and we helped communities overseas gain access to drinking water. We did this by doing what we would have done every day anyway; we went to school. The greatest power we have is the enthusiasm of the students. That energy fueled many great activities at our school last year and I am certain there is more to come.
It is comforting, as a teacher and a mom, to know that I don't have to go very far to be connected globally.
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