It's all about connections
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)
Check out a film being created by one of our Spark students! On Facebook: Project Senegal