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Archive for Monday, March 1, 2010

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Living stories: Free State students will travel to Kenya for Miriam’s Circle team

Members of the Miriam’s Circle: Community Storytelling Team 2010, from left: Lawrence resident Autumn Riff, Free State High School teacher Andrew Nussbaum, FSHS junior Hayley Francis, FSHS senior Christina Picicci, FSHS senior Carlin Francis, FSHS senior Ruaa Hassaballa and Kansas University freshman Michelle Wilson. The group will spend about two weeks in Kenya in June.

Members of the Miriam’s Circle: Community Storytelling Team 2010, from left: Lawrence resident Autumn Riff, Free State High School teacher Andrew Nussbaum, FSHS junior Hayley Francis, FSHS senior Christina Picicci, FSHS senior Carlin Francis, FSHS senior Ruaa Hassaballa and Kansas University freshman Michelle Wilson. The group will spend about two weeks in Kenya in June.

March 1, 2010

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Andrew Nussbaum, center, Free State High School social studies teacher, and Autumn Riff, right, a Lawrence resident, greet children at an Internally Displaced Person Camp in Maai Mahiu, Kenya.

Andrew Nussbaum, center, Free State High School social studies teacher, and Autumn Riff, right, a Lawrence resident, greet children at an Internally Displaced Person Camp in Maai Mahiu, Kenya.

A Kenyan woman in the city of Maai Mahiu, population 20,000, shows off beans she grew.

A Kenyan woman in the city of Maai Mahiu, population 20,000, shows off beans she grew.

Ruaa Hassaballa loves the power of a good story.

Hassaballa, born in Sudan, is a senior at Free State High School. She’ll be traveling to Kenya this summer to listen to the stories of the families displaced by the country’s internal struggles, and of mothers of disabled children.

“I want to hear their experiences,” Hassaballa says. “That story-telling can help me a lot in experiencing things in my own life that I encounter.”

She is one of four Free State students — and one recent graduate — who will travel to Kenya as part of Miriam’s Circle Community Storytelling Team.

The team is an outgrowth of the Social Awareness Club at Free State, which also organized domestic volunteer projects such as an ongoing pen pal project with elementary school students in Topeka.

Tyler Arachtingi, a former Free State student, traveled to Kenya two years ago as part of the Lawrence-based nonprofit Comfort the Children International. FSHS social studies teacher Andrew Nussbaum, his mother and their friend, Autumn Riff, traveled to Kenya last year to lay the foundation for this summer’s trip.

The students will meet with Kenyans to hear and document their stories. While others with Comfort the Children International are working in areas such as health care and education, Nussbaum says he expects the Miriam’s Circle team to return to the United States to help spread the word about the needs in Africa.

“Miriam’s Circle” refers to a woman Nussbaum met during the pilot group’s trip last year. Miriam’s daughter has cerebral palsy. Volunteers with CTC have pooled money to help pay for Miriam to work at the school for disabled children that her daughter attends.

After his trip last year, Nussbaum said he started talking with specific students who be believed could make a positive impact in Kenya. He and Riff, who also will be on the return trip, want to address “girl effect” — the social justice principle that women bring positive change when allowed to be more involved in society — and gender equity issue by having an all-female student team.

“We want to connect these girls with those girls in Kenya,” Riff says.

As far as the specifics of the trip — which is scheduled for June 13-25 — Nussbaum says those working in Kenya will help direct that.

“I don’t think anybody knows what we’re going to do and how we’re going to help,” he says.

Still, those going on the excursion are excited to help in any way that presents itself.

“It seemed like a great opportunity to expand my horizons and have new experiences,” says Michelle Wilson, a 2009 FSHS graduate now attending Kansas University.

Adds Hayley Francis, a junior at Free State: “I want to be something that’s bigger than me.”

The group will spend the next few months learning about Kenya through classes provided by the Kansas African Studies Center at KU, learning about basic Swahili, cultural norms and other topics.

Members also will be fundraising. At Applebee’s, 3900 W. Sixth St., they will receive 15 percent of the bill from 10:30 a.m. to midnight Thursday, March 11 and 18, and April 1. Donors can also contact Riff at gaiag123@yahoo.com or Nussbaum at anussbau@usd497.org.

They group also is planning additional fundraisers, perhaps a dinner event.

Carlin Francis, a senior at Free State, says she hopes to build on the roots already set by last year’s scouting trip to Kenya.

“I’ve heard the comments and stories from last year,” she says. “They’ve kept up with these people, and I want us to go ton and experience it for ourselves.”

Comments

fudgystuff 4 years, 9 months ago

I certainly hope this entire trip is paid for with private funds. With all the shortage of school funds I hope that the teacher is not being paid or reinbursed for airfare, rental car, etc..... Can you comment on this because I'm sure lots of others are asking this same question. How is this trip & teachers salary, etc being paid for and by whom???? And is this really a necessary trip? What principal or school board would approve something like this when Lawrence is in jeopardy of closing some of our schools? I think we might have to look at replacing some of our elected school board members or have them removed early, if you agree, please comment..

jhawk0097 4 years, 9 months ago

Fudgy, I'm sure it's private money. I don't get why every article in the ljw dealing w/ Africa has to be set up as some sort of humanitarian mission. I oculd be wrong, but I'm guessing these kids come from well-to-do families who can afford a trip to Kenya and have a very narrow, narcissistic view of compassion (e.g. they'll come back endlessly name-dropping their trip like so many other HS/KU study/travel abroad kids). If the intent is to help Kenyans, you don't have to fly across the world. Pushing to remove US farm subsidies would be a good start.

origflyboy 4 years, 9 months ago

I guess I will post a positive comment on here since the last 2 have been bittersweet. It is possible to raise money for trips via fundraisers. I didn't come from a well to do family and was able to raise money to do things like this. I hope that this group enjoys there time there and are able to make a difference in the lives of the kids there at least for the 2 weeks they are there.

Take_a_letter_Maria 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes flyboy, as usual on the JW forums, no good deed goes unpunished.

Seems fudgy's reading comprehension skills are non-existent since the article clearly states they are holding various fundraisers to raise money to cover the costs of their trip -

"Members also will be fundraising. At Applebee’s, 3900 W. Sixth St., they will receive 15 percent of the bill from 10:30 a.m. to midnight Thursday, March 11 and 18, and April 1. Donors can also contact Riff at gaiag123@yahoo.com or Nussbaum at anussbau@usd497.org.

They group also is planning additional fundraisers"

And yes0097, there are many things that could be done without traveling, but sometimes experiencing a different culture & lifestyle is so much more eye-opening and beneficial. It's a shame that both you and fudgy have such a jaded view of today's youth.

Maxandwillie 4 years, 9 months ago

This trip will not use a single penny of school district funds. The teacher will travel during his time off.

hail2oldku 4 years, 9 months ago

Is this the same Carlin Francis? http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/jan...

So does she go to FSHS or LHS? not that it really matters because she does seem to have a bright future ahead of her.

At any rate, good job kids. I'll see you at the fundraiser. I hope you all have a great experience.

DebraWilson 4 years, 9 months ago

This group is not receiving any public funds. Our daughter is paying for the trip herself by working. She got a grand total of $50.00 from her not-so-well-to-do parents. She wants to learn about the world, experience a different culture and maybe even help someone. I couldn't be prouder of my narcissist!

melia 4 years, 9 months ago

Hear hear Mrs. Wilson! Congratulations to every one of these kids. The more I'm around young people like these girls, the more hope I have for the future. Never underestimate the passion and enthusiasm of young people. I'm sad for people who do. Have a wonderful trip!!

barrie 4 years, 9 months ago

It is a very interesting thing about human nature that so many people think that they know the right answers for others. We need to accept and embrace the fact that everyone has different passions in life and are touched by different things. Fudgystuff, you seem to have a passion for appropriate use of school funds and teacher time and resources. Jhawk0097, you appear to believe that helping others stateside is best. To suggest that a young high school girl or group of girls have a narcissistic view of compassion because they were touched in some manner that ignited a desire to go to Kenya is unkind and rather shortsighted. It’s scary to go to Africa. It’s scary to get shots. It’s scary to hear about the proliferation of AIDS. It’s scary to raise money. To live out a passion involves risk and the student profiled in this story, as well as the rest of the team, is risking many things to live out a passion—something that most Americans never do. The young man, Tyler, mentioned in the story—he is my child. His experience gave him a world view that he would have never attained had he never left the states. He has realized that nothing in life is unmanageable and a sense of entitlement should never be his companion. In Kenya, the strength of the human spirit is exposed to you like you could never imagine.

cheld88 4 years, 9 months ago

My heart just about broke when I read the first comment, and it was repaired when I read the other positive ones, especially Barrie's. I traveled to Kenya last summer on the premise that I wanted to experience something new, something far beyond me and my small world in Kansas. The experience was life changing, and now I'm going back. It's not about what you DO when you're over there or the bragging rights some people pretend that you have because you've been to Africa. It's about CONNECTING with people. It's about letting them know that people on the other side of the globe are thinking of them and caring about them and devoting part of their own life to people they don't even know. I applaud these young people for traveling over into a world unknown and putting themselves out there to be changed. Because they will be.

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