Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Inspiration...

Enhancing education and empowering youth to make a difference in thier own communities while helping people of developing countries increase thier self reliance through education.
Building With Books Mission Statement

I think that the reason it is so hard for me to separate myself from Building With Books is because BwB does the important job of emphasizing two equally important goals, accountability to local and global community. As a member of Building With Books for 4 years (high school) I never had to separate myself from these two goals. BwB does the crucial job of emphasizing education and community service not only to a global community, but also to a local one. It is easy to look at all of the priveledge embraced and often taken advantage of in the US and think that work in developing countries is more important. Likewise, it is easy to look at the vast inequality, classism, racism, ageism and homophobia and preach that to fix other places we must first fix ourselves. My work with Building With Books emphasized a more wholistic approach. All year we worked in different places in our community, some of the richest and poorest schools in the Philadelphia area came together to bake bread, unpack toy donations, rebuild community centers, repaint the peeling paint in the walls of our own schools, and dance with underpriveledged youth at a holiday party. The work we did within our own community was crucial. Also the impact and importance that BwB gave me, as a youth, growing up in the inner ring suburb of Upper Darby, was life changing. As I rose through the ranks as a leader of the club I gained the empowerment and leadership skills that carry me on to this day. As I continue to do work on a personal, local and global level I realize the importance of the tools I left BwB with.
The trek to Nicaragua also profoundly, but differently changed my life. When we went to that village tucked in the mountains close to the Nicaraguan Hondoran border we met people living in a way radically different from our own. One of the ways to measure class is through the variety of food in a persons diet. We met people who ate beans and rice (gallo pinto) and homemade corn totillas. Not to say that they had never eaten anything else, and believe me our host moms knew how to spice up the food with gourds, avocados, fried bananas and the occasional chicken (but for very special occasions). The people in this small village of maybe 30, with 100 or so living out of the center in the mountains, people lived without electricity, running water (aka showers, bathrooms...) and essentially all of the things that are considered basic nessesities in the US.
My work with them changed me forever because of my fundemental belief in education, and the importance and power of education. The education I recieved through this organization was not only how to lead an activity or plan a fundraiser but also my education lay in the experience of working along side a 10 year old as we dug the foundation to his own school. Through BwB I gained the understanding of my accountability to a global community. And through BwB I gained the understanding of my accountability to my local community.

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