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Rwanda Day 2

Rwanda1

by Polly Lodge

Muraho (hello) from Rwanda! We are having a terrific experience. We’ve spent three days painting a children’s library and soon we will push off to Musanze. Our donations of books and laptops were well received. The children at the school are super energized with our presence and we play hard during the daily breaks in the school day. Accommodations have been simple but sufficient. There’s lukewarm running water. Food has been varied, but lots of fruit and the local Shish kabob last night was delicious. Clean drinking water is always available. Tomorrow will be an early morning to see the rare Golden Monkeys followed by a visit to a cultural village for drumming, dancing, and local food. Kids are in good spirits, engaged in the work, and learning to work as a group. (Almost) everyone is healthy. Please don’t worry; we will reach out to a parent if someone is ill. So far we have only suffered minor diarrhea for one child.

See photos here.

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Rwanda Day 1

Rwanda

by Camille Drury ’19

At 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, June 9th, I woke up with my suitcase ready. All of us traveling to Rwanda met at Drayron Circle hoping to leave at 5:45a.m. The drive to JFK airport was long and sweaty and to no surprise the 12 hour flight to Doha, Qatar, was also long. From Doha we traveled 6 hours to Uganda, and then 30 minutes to Rwanda. This is my first time out of the United States and the journey to Rwanda was nothing if not tiring, but something on the plane rides forbid me to sleep.

I was excited and nervous to go to a place I had never been and more importantly, to meet new faces and cultures I would never experience back home. When we all arrived in Rwanda we were Flores by the beauty presented in front of us and the immense friendship that was extended to us by everyone. When taking the van to the Peace Garden were we are sleeping, I realized how peaceful the city is and even more, how silent  it can be in the hills were we are staying. Today completed our first work day of the trip, were we went to the Peace Center Library for Children to paint the walls and clean the new computer room. I enjoyed painting and found myself not thinking of it as work, especially when all the children came out of class to play. All of us on the trip were swarmed by children, running, laughing, high-fiving, and even saying “I love you!” We had never seen children so full of life such as they were, and they had never seen teenagers such as us. Deciding to partake in the service trip was daunting, as the history invites preconceived assumptions or opinions about both the country and the people. However, it takes an unfathomable amount of love, courage, and strength to look beyond hate, and that is exactly what this country has done.

See more from Rwanda on Instagram!

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An Unexpected Opportunity

fernando

by Fernando Rojas ’18

I never knew much about the prospect of opportunities while living in the area of Bristol, Pennsylvania. Chances came by rarely, so you barely heard about anyone living in riches or having the opportunity to do something drastic with their life. It was expected that most kids would just go to my local public school, Harry S. Truman, and I was content with that idea. Well, up until 8th grade. When I first received news of my acceptance to George School, I distinctly remember sitting in my room eating a bag of Cheetos. It came as shock but I was neither nervous nor excited of the news. I simply did not know what to think, but besides of the fact that it was the commencement of a new chapter in my life. Eventually, the last day of middle school happened. It was one of the toughest days I ever faced because I was leaving friends I knew since age 5 and we did not know what our relationship would look like.

Now, it has been about 4 years since that day. Thankfully, I have kept in contact with a large majority of my friends back home. Currently, I am now a senior at George School and I have loved every single moment of it. There is nothing I would change for this experience. I have met tons of unique individuals who strive for nothing but success in their lives. Ultimately, I now have a total of three families. One of course being with my brothers, sister, and parents, and the other two being with the friends I love from both schools- Harry S. Truman and George School.

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Social Justice and Activism

by Jayde Dieu ’20

I have always had a passion for social justice and activism. I believe that in the day and age that we live in, cultural consciousness and involvement are critical to building a society that lives up to its incredible potential. In my years before George School, I remember feeling hopeless. I was filled with so much passion and eagerness to make a difference, but it was difficult to find a means of doing so. I felt as though I would be unable to make any contribution that would change the world the way I dreamed of doing. After becoming a student at George School, the tools and resources that I have been provided have shown me that I can truly make that change. When I sat in my first Meeting for Worship as a newly accepted student, I remember the feeling that it gave me. It was as though a fire had ignited within me. As I listened to the current students share their thoughts and ideas with such passion and freedom, I knew that George would be the place that made my dreams of inspiring change a reality. As I complete my second year, I can see how that passion has inspired action. I, along with a few of my classmates, started a club on campus for spoken word poetry called GS Slam. It is an outlet for people to utilize the power of words as a tool to entertain, enlighten, and inspire. Being in this club and the many others on campus that are similar has made me hopeful and optimistic for the things I will be equipped to accomplish after high school. Being a member of the George School community has shown me that you are never too young to make a difference and you’re never too wise to realize it’s your difference to make.

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El doceavo día

D and A 2D and A1

This morning we started our day in the primary school with competitive games. I was happy because I was able to contribute to my grade’s win in the potato sack race. Then, all of our group, competed against student the Nicaragüita in a competitive game of tug of war.

We returned to Rafaela’s house for some delicious rice and meat. Not long after lunch, everyone was sprawled out on the floor, taking an afternoon nap. These afternoon naps have become quite a custom.

We were then picked up by the 10th grade class of the Nicaraguita and walked to school. We all sat in the back of our usual classes and took in the language. My grade was having a very interesting debate about feminism but I had some difficulty keeping up with all of the vocab. After recess we competed in another series of games, these were much more difficult to win compared to those of the lower school. We won one game of tug of war but lost every other game.

Afterwards, we went back inside for a party with the 11th grade of the Nicaraguita. They handed out plates with chicken and vegetables and quickly after eating we all danced. All of a sudden Alyssa and I were told to stand and wait in the middle of the room. To our surprise, a live chichero band came in blasting music as a celebration for our  birthdays. We had danced for somewhere around 3 hours switching partners along the way. We were very sad when the party ended and we had to return to our host families for the night.

Yours truly,

Danny and Alyssa 🙂

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Mississippi Day 7

Day 7 GS group dinner

by Julia Wilson ’18

Our day started early at 7:30 because we had to get Kailee and Brendan to the airport. We will miss them this upcoming week. Upon arrival at the airport though, we met Valerie’s brother and he kindly found us a hotel and drove us to our next location: Graceland. Graceland was Elvis Presley’s home and easily one of the strangest places I have ever been. It was a huge concrete complex, similar to an amusement park, but 80% empty. There was however a private bell choir who played songs like the Jurassic Park theme song. I think this made the experience a little weirder but also a little more entertaining. Elvis’s home itself was pretty big but not abnormally sized; the decorations are what made it stand out. There was one room that was all blue and yellow, and another that was floor to ceiling a very detailed pattern. There were also mirrors and carpeting everywhere… even on the ceilings. Later we were picked up by Valerie and Emma, our new week two chaperone, and taken to the Civil Rights Museum. There was a lady standing outside the museum, which had once been a motel and was where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, who had been protesting for over 30 years. Members of our group were curious to find out her arguments for this but Valerie had us go ahead with the tour anyway, as we were meeting Fred Davis, who had walked in protest with MLK and also sat on the stage with MLK on the day of his last speech, waiting to walk the tour with us. The museum itself was very nice and very interesting. It covered the civil rights movement and its history and had 22 different exhibits, each of which was interactive and highly informational and included artifacts and historical photos, letters, and more. After our group got through the museum a few of us still were inside so the rest of us relaxed on the lawn across the street. After the museum we went back to our hotel and were met by a great dinner cooked by Valerie’s brother and his neighbors. It was delicious! At night we went to the mall for about an hour and then came back to hang out before going to bed.

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El Onceavo Día

by Hadley Cohen ’19

Today was the first day of our second week of school. It is starting to hit me that we are leaving soon because the days keep flying by. This morning we had our normal breakfast at 7, of rice and beans, eggs and ham, and mangos. The juice of the day was my favorite, flor de Jamaica. After we had breakfast the first grade class showed up to walk us to class. Jordan and I spent the morning with our preschoolers, drawing, coloring, and playing with playdough. The greeting of hugs every morning has become a part of my daily routine, and I will miss it so much.

After spending the morning with the kids we went to our dance class. In the beginning dance class was really difficult because of the heat, but now we are becoming accustomed to it and it is becoming more fun. We learned the last part of the dance that we will perform on the last day. After dance class we went to lunch], which consisted of macaroni salad, plantain chips, rice, and steak.

Today instead of going to the high school, we went to the albergue of the hospital for children with cancer. At the albergue we played with the kids and painted. We painted the playground and the front of the hospital. This was really sad but happy at the same time. Even though the kids were sick, they were able to still have smiles on their faces and play with us. After the albergue we came back to the house for dinner. Dinner tonight was empanadas, rice, and tomatoes. When I got home after dinner I played with my 1 year old host brother and then passed out from the long day.

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What to Pack for Boarding School

340-Amber Salazar

by Amber Salazar ’19

I have been a boarding school student for 2 years now and it seems like each year I somehow manage to forget to pack something important. I’ve always wished that there was a list of things that I should and shouldn’t pack, but I can never seem to find one that is as handy as I would like it to be, so I am going to make a list of my own. Here are the essentials of packing for boarding school.

  • Pack lots of clothes! While you are packing it may seem like you are bringing way too much, but trust me, you’ll need it. Lately the weather has been unpredictable, so make sure to bring clothes for both warm and cold temperatures.
  • Pack different types of shoes. Sometimes you will need sneakers, if it’s cold out you may want to wear boots, or when it’s hot you might want to wear sandals. It is very convenient to have a variety.
  • Bring decorations! The majority of dorm rooms are very bland, so that you can customize it to your liking. Lots of people hang up lights, posters, pictures; really anything that makes it feel more like home.
  • Remember to bring school supplies. You are going to a boarding SCHOOL, after all. Pencils, pens, notebooks, binders, etc.
  • Toiletries! This is probably the most easily forgotten thing to pack. Since you will be living at school, you will need a toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, etc.
  • Bring food. You will be hungry sometimes! If you want a late-night snack or something small to eat in the middle of the day, it is nice to have something to eat in your room.

Overall, the boarding school experience is AMAZING. When you pack the necessary items, the experience just becomes even better.

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Mississippi

by Alyssa Fread ’18

This morning after a late start, we arrived at the work site to find an enormous pile of dry wall waiting for us to move into the house. Although mildly dangerous, we quickly turned the job into a race, or a more pc name: competitive walk with a winner, with people teaming up in pairs to pretty much run holding enormous rectangles of sheet rock. Even though we all had two people to work with, Lorenzo beat out the competition by a mile and shifted into fourth, out of apparently eighteen, gears and won just working by himself.

During our break Lorenzo led us around for a tour of Tutwiler, where we saw a bunch more homes, the community center, and the funeral home for Emmett Till. It was crazy to see the state of disrepair the funeral home was in, basically one step above falling down, with really only a sign to commemorate the site. If you go around back, you can see the hearse in the garage. One great thing we saw on the tour were the plans to create a really large park. Lorenzo said that within three to four years, the park would be completed with baseball diamonds, basketball courts, and pools, all of which I think would make a huge difference to the community. I would love to check back in four or so years from now and see the finished park and if it’s changed anything for the people of Tutwiler.

After yet another aggressive game of Egyptian Rat-screw, half of our group left to make a grocery run to the Dollar General and the other half stayed behind to play a four on four game of football. Although my team was stacked, with me, Kailee, Lorenzo, and Beau, the other team, Brendon, Jacob, Susie, and Max, somehow managed to beat us out for the win. By the end of the game we were all dead tired, but returned to the work site to finish all of the windows and fiberglass for the walls and ceilings. It was a great feeling. After finishing our work for the day, Sara, one of the nearby homeowners who also had a house built by Habitat for Humanity, offered to have us all tour her home. It was really cool to see what we were working on in relation to the finished product, also she decorated impeccably with a strong burgundy theme that added a very stylish vibe to the house.

We all cleaned up and went to the community center for a pot luck with a bunch of people from the town. The food was fantastic, and although I wouldn’t know because I’m a vegetarian, I was told the fried chicken was to die for. It was really great to meet the families who would be receiving the houses we were working on and made the effort we were putting in all the more meaningful. Overall this was a great day. The more time we spend here the more I don’t want to leave and I can only hope that when we have to move to Clarksdale for our second worksite, we have just as good of a time as we’ve had so far.

 

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Easing Anxiety at GS

251-Khy Zungu

by Khy Zungu ’18

Senior year is stressful for anyone, no matter what school. At George School, academics are extremely important, but so is mental health. As a senior boarder and a prefect, there are certainly many things on my plate, but academics is a priority. When preparing for exams, the campus changes. The air is filled with mystery, anxiety, and confidence. Students walk a little faster from class to class and everyone’s backpacks are slightly heavier. Exams at George School are no joke, however, George School students are known to “over-prepare”.

My freshman year, I was terrified for exams. It was my first year in high school and my first year ever taking so many exams at once. I had seven classes and the way the schedule worked out, I was going to have my hardest exams on the same days. My prefects knew that everyone in the dorm was stressed. They kept their doors open so that anyone could come in and talk if they wanted to. The weekend before exams would be dedicated to studying, having certain quiet hours during which students would be expected to be studying. My dorm parents and prefects came around every hour to check on me and make sure I was okay. I was asked if I needed help more times than I can count, and my dorm parent had an extravagant snack time consisting of monkey bread, chips, and pizza, during the study break.

As a senior, I can say how much effort George School puts into making me feel prepared for not only my exams, but also college, makes me feel extremely comfortable.

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