Students at Vincent Massey Collegiate are about to go on the trip of a lifetime.
On Feb. 19, 34 Grade 10 to 12 students will head to the African country of Kenya on a two-week Me to We trip to immerse themselves in the Kenyan culture and participate in volunteer projects.
Paul Doyle, one of the organizing teachers, said the idea for the trip came up last year. While the school has done exchanges in the past, it had never organized a volunteer trip.
"It’s really good (for students) to get out of their comfort zone. (They’re) not just helping other people, (they’re) helping (themselves) grow as an individual and reflect and learn about (themselves)," Doyle said of the benefits of taking students on a trip such as this one.
And the students are excited to experience life in Kenya.
Madeleine Arbuckle, a Grade 11 student, said she’s most excited to spend two weeks meeting people. Oleleshwa, where the students will be taking part in a variety of volunteer building projects, including school building, tree planting or restoration.
"I’m most excited to interact with the people and see the impact firsthand of what we’re going to be doing," Arbuckle said.
Now that the students have their itineraries in hand, the trip has become much more of a reality.
"It’s crazy to actually have the final schedule now. There’s stuff (on our itineraries) that we didn’t know we’d be doing, like beading with the mamas," Arbuckle said. "It’s super exciting to realize how close we are and that every final detail is planned out."
The students will be taking Swahili lessons to aid in communicating with the locals.
"I’m excited to get there and get hands on with the people," said Brenley Toffan, also in Grade 11.
The girls are already considering the culture shock they’re likely going to experience after a trip across the globe.
"I know for sure it’s going to be coming back that’s going to be the hardest," Toffan said.
Arbuckle added the shock probably won’t hit until they return home.
"We’re going to be super excited to get there, so it might not hit us while we’re there. Once we come home it’s going to be weird to have everything at our fingertips that we maybe took for granted before," Arbuckle said.
However, the girls are already thinking of ways they might be able to continue their connection to the community upon arriving home. They’re brainstorming ways to fundraise for the community.
"Once we come back if there’s something we could find a way to provide them with (we might fundraise for it)," Arbuckle said.