This June, eight Waynflete students and three faculty members will trade in their books for shovels and tools as they head off to do service as part of the new Waynflete/ Students Shoulder to Shoulder partnership. Last summer, Meredith Nelligan ’14, Forest Chap, ’13 and Jim Millard, English teacher, returned from exploratory trips with SStS and shared their collectively positive experiences with our community, helping to move the potential collaboration forward and generating excitement in the faculty and student body about global service opportunities.
SStS was founded to offer high school students profound shared experiences working for the greater good alongside committed NGOs abroad and in the US. “Teens shape their worldview early on,” says Bob Bandoni, Executive Director. “Our purpose remains to compel students from around the world toward a clear, hope-inspired vision of how to confront what we call the paralysis of enormity- the futile feeling of looking at a global challenge that seems too big and too entrenched to even approach.”
This summer, two Waynflete students will build houses and work on wetlands restoration in New Orleans with a relief organization called Common Ground, two others will help design a community health care center in Nicaragua, and one will join in bringing clean water filters to towns in the Amazon basin of Bolivia. Projects in Kenya, Nepal, and Cambodia involve NGOs who work directly with children on school and garden projects; each trip will have at least one Waynflete student representative.
Sarah Macdonald looks forward to her first experience in Nicaragua where locals are mobilizing a sustainable eco-tourism effort. “I’m excited to take learning outside of the classroom. Exposing students to new cultures, learning different ways NGOs are helping in developing countries, and working alongside locals are what I am most looking forward to with Shoulder-to-Shoulder. Some of the most potent learning experiences of my life were when I was traveling, so I am thrilled to help navigate that experience for students.” For students studying Spanish, the project also provides the chance to practice the language in real-time to achieve a common goal.
Jim Millard returns to Cambodia again to build on relationships he formed last summer. ” Some of the “Wow!” factor will be diminished, and that will allow me to see the service elements of the experience in a deeper way and with new vision. Also, the people of Cambodia embraced us so warmly, I am eager to reconnect with the islanders on Koh Preah and with our NGO partners in Phnom Penh and to help a new group of young people make that same connection.” He and Forest can be seen here sampling local cuisine (spiders!) during the experience last year.
Just this April, Lindsay Clarke traveled to Cusco to scout logistics for a project high in the Andes where she and a Waynflete student will focus on expansion of honey-making and trout farming facilities along with other agricultural programs that support the orphans at Munaychay Children’s Village. “I learned so much in just five short days on the ground in Peru last month. Munaychay’s staff and facilities are impressive, and the natural setting is breathtaking. As someone who personally benefitted from having opportunities to study and volunteer internationally, I’m thrilled to be able to help provide a similar experience to the students in my Shoulder to Shoulder group.” Lindsay can be seen here visiting the Salineras de Maras, traditional salt mines that have been in use since pre-Inca times.
Students and faculty will share their experiences with the school community next fall in a Global Forum with the hopes of inviting one of the NGO partners back to the Waynflete campus to speak about their ongoing work and involving all three divisions of the School. The world is changing swiftly and the demand for competent global leaders willing and able to work together to engage tough dilemmas of environmental and social justice is rapidly rising. Waynflete students will be among those seeking solutions shoulder to shoulder with those whose lives are impacted most of all.