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It's all about connections

Students in Guediawaye learn to repair their own desks.

A month ago, I boarded a plane with a small group of young people and traveled back to Senegal, West Africa. For months prior to the trip, our teens communicated with their peers at the Fontaine School in Guediawaye, Senegal. Through the wonders of modern technology (Skype, Facebook and email) our students from the USA got to know their counterparts in Africa.

Many conversations around topics such as culture, religion, food, education and the rights of women were discussed prior to our visit. Once we arrived, the conversations continued of course.

We had a lot of fun, as the people of Senegal are among the most gracious in the world! We were surrounded by music, food and laughter.

What I found most remarkable was the gratitude and dedication to learning demonstrated by the students in Senegal. The Fontaine school is modest, with almost no 'hands-on' resources to allow the practice of what they are studying. For example, science class is taught only in theory, with no laboratory or equipment for the application of what is being taught and learned. English students lack books and videos. There are no computers in a school that houses 800 students.

Spark 540° has partnered with the Fontaine school and now has specific goals to address their needs. We will return in June 2014 and again in December.

We are not a charitable organization, nor are we simply a cultural exchange program.

Spark 540° empowers teens on both sides of the ocean to identify their ideals, talents, skills and interests. They are then encouraged take action in order to help others.

During this most recent trip, that we have just returned from a few weeks ago, our teens in the USA noted that the classroom desks were in disrepair at the Fontaine school. Rather than simply raise money to buy and donate new desks, our teens chose to purchase tools and gather a group of Fontaine students who sit at those broken desks each day. Our U.S students taught the skill of carpentry to others, who learned quickly and by the end of the first day were busy repairing their own desks.

The following week, they all out-did themselves by traveling to a school in a village a couple of hours away, and building desks for the teachers there!

Together. 2 countries, 2 cultures, 2 schools, dozens of teens, many differences, many more similarities, skills taught, lessons learned, action taken, conditions improved, friends made. Connections.

We are all connected. We are ONE global family, after all.

On Facebook: Spark540
Also on Facebook: Kim Ayers (Spark Five Forty)
Twitter: spark_540
Check out a film being created by one of our Spark students! On Facebook: Project Senegal

Students put their new skill to action, and build desks for teachers at another school.
Kim rousing up a group of school children before a singing contest
Sharing lessons at the Fontaine school
What matter is the color of skin? Truly, it doesn't matter at all.
New friends, one family. Teens from USA and Senegal.
Learning of the Muslim faith. Education of differences brings people closer. Not knowing keeps people apart.
Complete immersion into a new culture is the best education. At a mosque in the holy city of Touba.
2 new friends. By the way, this is Chase (our USA teen) who used his talent to capture many life-changing moments with his camera. His skill is photography, and he is using it to bring awareness.


Carrie Lee's picture

Tools not charity

A true example of creative activism--
rather than raising money and donating something, these wonderful changemakers gave their friends TOOLS! And everyone's empowered.

thanks for sharing!

Celine's picture

Hi Kim, Great works you are

Hi Kim,

Great works you are doing empowering the youths. Uniting 2 countries, 2 cultures, 2 schools. I am proud of you. Keep up the good works of wonderful connections.


Cali gal Michelle's picture

Kim- YES, it IS all about

YES, it IS all about connection- my life's mantra! Such a great example of words in action, and keeping the momentum going. I will have to look up Spark to find out more about it. Thanks for sharing this experience, and looking forward to connecting more here on WP!

Let us Hope together-
aka: Cali gal


Cali gal Michelle's picture

PS- Please let the community

PS- Please let the community know about any other opportunities for this kind of connection and action. You may already be aware, so I apologize... you can post opportunities for action here:

Let us Hope together-
aka: Cali gal


KimmieJean's picture

Keeping lines open

Thank you, all you wonderful sisters! I certainly will keep the WP community posted, as I strive to add content to my page more often. Life keeps me so busy, I often don't take the time to stop by and keep tabs on things here.
Thanks for your support!


~Kimmie Jean, Spark 540°
Twitter: spark_540

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