They knew they would return with a different perspective, but no one could imagine the real impact a school service trip to Kenya would have on a group of Oak Park students.
“It is kind of life changing. You appreciate everything more. Our education, I feel more thankful. We don’t have to struggle. We just come to school and don’t even think about it and with clean water. We take showers and don’t even think about it,” said Nick Mayor.
The grade 11 student traveled to Massi Mara of Kenya as part of an ongoing relationship Oak Park High School has formed with the Massi Kipsigi people. This trip, the fourth the school has taken, was extra meaningful. Students and staff presented a four year $12,000 scholarship to a deserving young woman to attend the Kisaruni School for Girls. The award was appropriately called the “Scholarship of Dreams” and funds were raised through donations. Staff members who played a pivotal role in this scholarship were Darren Klapak and Ginette Lafreniere.
“If she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to school, she might have had to get married and have kids at 14. I talked to her a lot and she has really big plans for the future. She wants to be a brain surgeon,” shared Haley Grossman.
Those candid conversations were a trip highlight for 17 year old Grossman. Taking part in a water walk with the local mamas is also a moment that will not soon be forgotten.
“It changed my perspective on how strong these people are. Having to do that seven times a day. They were very thankful because we helped gather water for two days,” said Grossman.
While in Kenya, the group also spent time building a school. While working on the flooring, students noticed they had captured the attention of many young students.
“They were so happy to see us. No learning got done that day because everyone was watching us help build their school. Everyone in the community would wave and smile. They were so happy to see us. It was really touching,” said Mayor.
The service trip caught the attention of WE’s founder, Mark Kielburger. Watch his video message to Oak Park’s students and staff.