Salutations! I know that my portion of the blog has been silent for the last two months. But, that will not happen again. If you check just below this blog entry, you can enter your Email address and receive updates every time there is a new one. It is really easy to do and actually helps us out a lot. The more, the absolute merrier. Please spread the word to your fiends and anybody else that you think would be interested in our cause. I am learning that the nonprofit world really focuses on the number of hits and readers your site gets. Your help would be incredibly helpful and not too hard!
So back to why my blog took a 2 month nap… I apologize but “Africa happened” to my computer in mid September, basically frying my laptop’s monitors thus making communication impossible. However, since then I have returned to the states, fixed the laptop, am gathering my wife and tying up a few loose ends before we return in early December, TOGETHER, to get the school rolling. If all things work out according to plan, the doors of the school will open to its first class of girls in late January/early February and TahDah! Mission accomplished… sort of. There will always be funds to raise, and things to do. Currently we still need to raise another another $10,000 to make sure school starts the way we want it to. Hogan High’s Daraja club has selflessly offered to raise the $2,000 dollars to purchase our students a new pair of shoes and two new uniforms each (which works out to about $80 for each girl.) Woodside Priory’s Daraja Club is working on a way that they can also contribute, so maybe that ammount will not be quite so hard to raise!!!
On November 7th, Jenni and I piled into our car and bounced down I5 to San Diego.
The University of San Diego campus has changed in so many ways since I graduated in 1998. Impressive buildings have shot up including the Kroc School of Peace and Justice and Daraja Academies ’08-’09 partner of the year, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. What has not changed is the academic charge that buzzes across the campus, past students studying for their chemistry final on the fountains and those debating poli-sci over a quick snack on the grass. If I have to make it clearer, I love this place!
The School of Education and Leadership Sciences (SOLES) served as our home base during our five days in San Diego. Board member Kim Florence flew down and accompanied Jenni and myself into our first and possibly most reassuring meeting with the SOLES leadership team of: Dean Paula Cordeiro, Assistant Dean Linda Dews and the head of the Global Studies Center, Whitney McIntyre Miller. Impressively, all SOLES graduates must have an international experience, which fits closely with Daraja Academies desire to create lasting relationships between volunteers and campus. SOLES’ Global Studies Center will help facilitate the creation of those ‘bridges.’
The SOLES’ group was very excited about collaborating with Daraja Academy because it lined up with their school’s objectives and is eager to continue fund raising for the campus. In fact, as we walk through the sala of the SOLES building a large, color poster explaining Daraja Academy stood out next to a large donation jar. They also offered to help us facilitate meetings with Professors who specialize in areas that Daraja Academy will need more focused expertise in the future, as well as with graduate and undergrad students who may be interested in volunteering.
Over the course of our time at USD, Jenni and I met with professors whose fields of expertise ranged from conflict resolution, teen counseling, and leadership to recognizing sexual trauma in teen girls. The knowledge we gained in those short meetings will improve Daraja Academy in multiple ways; however, it was the relationships we created that I feel will bare the most fruit. Many of the educators we met with, including the Dean and Assistant Dean of SOLES seemed interested in visiting the campus and working with our students and staff personally. What an incredible gift that would be!!!
All five of the classes that Jenni and I spoke at, were brimming with passionate students, many of them eager to help Daraja in one way or another. They asked incredible questions ranging from how our girls will be chosen, to what we had to personally sacrifice in order for a project like this to come to fruition. Though we have only been home a few days, we have already received a handful of Emails from these students that were brimming with energy and interest.
Speaking at the alumni meeting had an effect on me that truly surprised me. As I was stepping up to the lectern, I looked around a room full of talented business women and men, teachers, physicians etc. that were all linked by one, undeniable fact – we had all attended the University of San Diego, yet we remain connected to it. Part of all of us, simply did not want to leave the campus behind. It occurred to me, that is exactly what we are trying to achieve with Daraja Academy. We also want to create a beautiful place of learning, where students discover things about themselves, they otherwise might not have; where they learn about the world and how they fit into it. We want to create a campus that our girls in four years, also will not want to leave totally behind them.
The USD alumni association is an amazing organization, and connections were made with alumni who will be able to help us with such things as shipping, teacher exchanges and fund raising.
Though I graduated from USD 10 years ago, the trip to my old campus was not only beneficial to Daraja Academy’s future; it was good for my soul. Who says you can’t go home again?
Thank you SOLES, thank you USD. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
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If you are interested in assisting Daraja Academy’s cause of bring free education to the deserving young women of Kenya, please contact us through our website. This has been such an incredible project, and we are soooooo close to beginning classes that it almost feels like a dream sometimes. Fortunately, there is plenty of seating available on this dream.