NORFOLK– Superintendent Paul Zinni is pleased to announce that eighth grade students at King Philip Middle School have donated a total of $1,834 this month to support Peace Corps projects.
Approximately 375 eighth grade students at the school donated their own money to a Peace Corps Partnership program. The two French classes donated a combined total of $600 to a cause in Northern Benin, Africa and the 13 Spanish classes donated a combined total of $1,234 to a cause in Panama.
The fundraisers were inspired by lessons on global poverty the students learned about in their language classes. After watching the documentary “Living on One” that follows four American college students as they attempt to replicate the poverty of living on $1 per day in Guatemala, they felt a desire to help.
The French students chose to donate their raised funds to help bring water to a school and its community in Africa. As of now, the closest clean water source to a local middle school in Northern Benin is a 10-minute walk away. Their donation will help fund a borehole and the installation of a water pump at the school to provide clean water for students at the middle school, nearby primary schools and the entire surrounding neighborhood.
The Spanish students chose to donate the money they raised to help fund Eco stoves in a small village in Panama. The Eco stoves will provide a venting system for villagers while they cook.
The teachers believe the projects align with two components of the Peace Corps mission: to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people the Peace Corps serve and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Since 2005, Spanish and Cultural Studies teacher Katie Brenneis, Spanish teacher Howard Bean and Spanish and French teacher Mimi Laetitia Lussiez de Narvaez have annually chosen a Peace Corps Partnership project to support based on student interest. This year, students donated more than any year before.
The three teachers each served in the Peace Corps in Latin American countries in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Unlike previous years, we decided to let our two language classes choose donation projects separately,” said Lussiez de Narvaez. “Students were able to choose a project that resonated with them and spread out their donations far greater than ever before. We are excited to see how the donations from our students help to impact projects in communities in different countries.”
Each year, the school hears back from the Peace Corps volunteers working on the project students donate to, and classes in the past have connected over email, Skype, YouTube and other platforms with Peace Corps volunteers to watch the project progress over the course of the school year.
“In past years, we have been fortunate enough to communicate with Peace Corps volunteers and members of the community in which they serve following our donation,” said Brenneis. “This year, we chose projects with countries that speak the same languages our students are learning so we can connect with the people of the country while communicating in our languages of study. We look forward to interacting with them and hearing about their experiences. “
“Thanks to our amazing language and culture teachers at King Philip Middle School, we are able to include donation projects in our curriculum,” said Superintendent Zinni. “Building upon our teachers’ previous volunteer experiences with the Peace Corps, these donation projects allow our students to partner with the Peace Corps to make a real difference at an early age while they learn about real, global problems in the classroom.”