“There are kids doing amazing things that they would never
have been able to do without this program,” says Kate Vavpetic, senior school head at Fox Chapel's Shady Side Academy.
Vavpetic is talking about the school's Parkin Fellows
: sophomores and juniors who devise their own national and international travel and aid projects, usually lasting three weeks, in hospitals or libraries, in construction or on environmental issues.
This year's Fellows are:
· Aya Agha of O’Hara, going to Mozambique to teach English at an orphanage;
· Taylor Duncan, who will travel to Panama to help nurse malnourished children;
· Maggie Elias, headed for Tanzania to work with children there;
· Joseph Klein, who will work at the Pro Vita Orphanage in Romania;
· Carianne Lee, teaching at a rural Chinese school;
· Sophie Wecht, set to work on a project to protect turtles, crocodiles and birds in Mexico;
· Tarah Wright, in Senegal to undertake construction, agricultural projects and teaching; and
· Selina Yossef, slated to help build houses on the Sioux Indians' Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
When students return to school the next year, they present a report to their classmates. And they pledge to continue their service at home.
“The ideal for the program is that they have demonstrated some sort of commitment to service,” says Vavpetic. “I think that’s the most challenging for students. It’s hard, when they’ve been working in an orphanage in Romania or Tanzania, to translate that to [service] back home.”
In fact, during this spring's fellowship interview, several of the applicants proposed to start a Parkin Fellows club to organize events and pool resources to help with this important final step.
How important is it? Nearly every applicant told the selection committee they were inspired to apply by hearing presentations by last year’s fellows, Vavpetic says. “It does bring these global perspectives to our school,” she concludes.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Kate Vavpetic, Shady Side Academy