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Students Travel To Ghana: Linking Minds Hearts And Vermont To The World
photo providedTen students from Vergennes Union High School with 19 students and faculty members of the Trinity Yard School in Cape Three Points, Ghana. This is a shot from the backside of the school.
photo providedVergennes students Sammy Kepes and Michael Danyow with students that they taught throughout the week at the Trinity Yard School in Cape Three Points, Ghana.
photo providedInside a classroom on the culminating day of a ten day stay at the Trinity Yard School for ten Vergennes students.
Tuesday April 9, 2013
By Cookie Steponaitis
Vergennes Union High School (VUHS) senior Ruby Dombek has one foot in two worlds. One is firmly planted in the clay soil of Addison County and the other far across the sea in Ghana. It all started from a conversation between VUHS teacher Lee Shorey, Ruby and Trinity Yard School founder Rory Jackson who was at VUHS to pick up donated sports equipment. The topic came up about no VUHS student ever having gone to Ghana to help or provide service and resulted in Dombek immediately asking the question, “Why not?” Ruby felt passionately about carrying the message of the school's work back to her classmates at VUHS. She was instrumental in organizing a meeting and fundraisers becoming the champion of an outreach trip to Ghana, setting the stage for a unique and eye opening experience that changed the lives of those who went.
Lincoln resident Rory Jackson founded the Trinity Yard School in Ghana building it from the ground up. Jackson’s mission is to give the children not only a chance to go to school and get a job but to ensure for them hope for their futures through education. VUHS senior Ed Devino was one of the students who made the trip from Vergennes to Ghana in February 2013 and shared some of his experiences. “I expected great things out of this trip and I expected some pretty high heat,” remarked Devino."Each of those aspects was surpassed in any imaginable way. It was HOT. But I never expected to make so many great connections and be so amazed at the beauty one single place could have. To sum it up I didn't want to leave and yearn to get back.”
Most of the VUHS students on the trip were juniors and seniors who are busily preparing for their own transitions to college and life beyond high school and discovered the importance of the role of education in Ghana. Far from being accessible to the masses as it is here in the United States it is a privilege to be educated there and each student is incredibly motivated to learn. “There, each kid at this school goes out of will, so each day they are so eager to learn and it really put into perspective what an education can do for a person,” shared Devino. "Not only do they gain intelligence but they gain the confidence and hope to carry on striving within their life. Each student at this school sacrifices so much to be there because they put an extreme trust in education to get them out of any troubles.”
Devino was impressed by the beauty of Ghana but became aware of the lack of resources in the region as well and shared that the group came away with so much more than a perception about a “third world county.” Thinking back to the commercials he had seen during childhood about “saving children in Africa,” he shared, “that being there put into perspective that they are just people like us with so many aspirations and dreams but few resources available to them to achieve their goals. While donation is helpful,” Devino stressed that, “time and talents given by going there are the most powerful ways to implement change.”
“Driving through the streets of Accra, Ghana it really was stunning to see all of the people selling things on the streets or ‘hawking’ as it usually is referred to,” remarked the VUHS senior. “Countless people with a vast variety of items come to the window of vehicles yelling out the product they're selling when in America when we see someone stopping people at their window it is either a cop or way out of the norm. I would STRONGLY encourage anyone available to go on this trip to take advantage of it. Find a group, work with them in fund raising and become good friends because you'll be close for however long you stay.”
Devino and the other students are looking to the future and are hopeful that this trip planted a seed in the school and that traveling and service need not stop at the borders of America. VUHS teacher Lee Shorey sees the union as, “a way to see VUHS students engaged in service that is not only meaningful but increases their desire to see the world as a global community and to be a global citizen. We planted a seed,” shared Shorey. “The fruit will be seen not only by this first group but by the links forged in each successive group to make the trip.”
The Trinity Yard School served as an incredible connection between Vermont and Ghana, bridging geography, political boundaries and even cultural differences. Devino himself hopes to return to Ghana and concluded, “Personally I would love to go back someday and stay and teach for the entirety of a year to watch the students grow from day one to the day of graduation.”
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