Photo by Eugene Kaspersky
Adding to our previous post about how we arrived where we are today, I thought I would share a bit of background taken from a paper I wrote this summer about our amazing Peru Project journey:
The powerful Skype call with Tim Kitchen in Peru sparked a call to action in our students. They became driven to make a difference in the lives of the Q’enqo students. “Kids helping kids! Now that is what personalized learning is all about” (Laurie Renton). We realized to support our students’ fundraising plans we needed to work with Mosqoy, “a Canadian charitable organization working to bridge cross-cultural gaps between North American and Peru”. Tim connected us with the founders of a division of Mosqoy who work closely with the school in Q’enqo. Gratefully, we were able to have a Skype video call with Ashli Akins, president and founder of Q’ente Textile Revitalization Society. In this conversation our students gained an even deeper understanding of life in Q’enqo. Originally our students intended to raise money for sports equipment for the Q’enqo school, but they soon discovered there were far greater areas of need. The villagers have a difficult time meeting their basic needs, something our students rarely give pause to consider. Our students decided that the people of Q’enqo and the organizations that support them should decide where to direct the funds. It was a moment of great learning when they understood they shouldn’t impose their perceptions of need onto a community.
Together with their teachers, the Grade 3 students developed, planned and implemented two Q’enqo fundraising events at our school. One event took place during a grade-wide celebration of learning and the other was a school-wide spirit day entitled “Caps for Q’enqo”. Our Grade 3 learners encouraged their schoolmates to donate one dollar to wear a hat for the day in support of Q’enqo students. Leading up to the event, children donated additional money for Q’enqo by arranging weekend lemonade stands, emptying their piggybanks and donating portions of their allowances. Parents informed us Q’enqo was a regular topic in their homes, around the dinner tables, and with extended family members. Our students were passionate about their cause and spoke about it outside of their classrooms with anyone who would listen.
The power of our journey and the power of students changing the world was fully understood when we learned the money raised would be enough to entirely fund the creation of a school library in Q’enqo. The project had be abandoned years prior, but now due to our students efforts a building could be renovated, shelves built, materials transported, and books purchased. The importance of books and reading is not lost on our students who treasure their own school library and its wealth of resources. “The magic of a book and learning to read opens the doors to a whole new world. What greater gift could there be than the gift of knowledge…something most of us take for granted” (Laurie Renton).
During the initial videoconference to Peru so many months earlier we never imagined nor envisioned such a journey would take place. A journey that inspired, connected, and created change. Our students became “mavericks” and “agents of change” (Joanne Lambrinoudis) through a process that was driven by their curiosity of the world and compassion for others.
For more information please see our CASS article A Passion for Learning Helps Build a Library in Peru.
Moving forward from here we will be sharing our continuing journey with the Peru project. Our students will be active contributors in the blogs posts as they share their questions, discoveries and learning. We are so excited for wherever this road takes us!