A classroom experience of a lifetime

A classroom experience of a lifetime

Lisa Lapina
I'm very excited to be traveling to Zambia this summer, from June 3 to July 4. I feel the experience of working with children in Africa will really open my eyes to a world I have never seen before. I think the most exciting parts of my trip will be getting an in-depth look into the lives of the children who I will be interacting with and learning more about the culture of Zambia.

It's been hard to prepare myself for a trip like this, because I have never been so far from home before. I hope my trip will give me a better understanding of education of at-risk children and youth.

I (left) on June 3 at 6:30 p.m., flying out of the Philadelphia International Airport to Frankfurt, Germany and then boarding a connecting flight to the London Heathrow Airport. I (spent) seven hours in London and boarded a flight at 7:30 p.m. that (took) me to Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. I will be staying with missionaries, Charles and Sarah West, who live a few miles outside of the city in Kalundu.

My first few days in Zambia will be spent with the West family getting accustomed to the country. On Monday, June 7, I (went) to the Well Spring of Faith and Hope Community School on the Kalikiliki compound for the first time to meet the children I will be working with for the next month.

I chose to travel to Africa this summer for many reasons. The main reason I'm traveling there is to do research for my honors independent study project. I chose to research at-risk children and youth for my independent study, which I will be working to complete over the next year before I graduate in 2011. The idea for traveling abroad to do research was developed while meeting with my honors advisor, Dr. (Charles) Starkey, chairperson of the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. We thought it would be beneficial to work with a diverse group of children and get a real-life experience of what life is like for children in another part of the world.

After contacting International Ministries in King of Prussia, Pa., I applied to be a short-term volunteer missionary and was granted the position. The time came to choose where I was going to volunteer, and my options were Zambia or Thailand. Both countries had missionaries stationed within them that focused specifically on working with children and youth.

Zambia was the most appealing choice to me for many reasons. Ever since my high school youth group did events like 30 Hour Famine and worked with the Invisible Children campaign, I have wanted to visit Africa. I was also online months ago looking at the International Ministries website that showed pictures of the children in Zambia, and I fell in love with the children at the Well Spring Community School. I knew right away Zambia was where I should go and all I could do was hope that all of the planning and organization could make the trip a reality. Sure enough, after much planning and the help of many people at BU and IM, ... it has been a dream come true.

My goal for my independent study project is to complete a research project that will not only allow me to enhance my knowledge and understanding of diversity but make a difference in lives of children. I know going into this project the children I'm going to be working with live in complete abject poverty. For June, I will be spending five days a week at the Kalikiliki compound volunteering in a school with children ages five through sixteen. I will learn a lot through this experience and hopefully I will be able encourage other students at BU to go abroad in the process.

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