Tag Archives: global change

Students Build Hope During Service Trip to Guatemala

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For 18 students, this March break was about commitment, making a difference and proudly practicing Ridley’s motto: Terar dum prosim ­– May I be consumed in service. This group of students travelled 3344 kilometers from St. Catharines to Guatemala. Accompanied by their chaperones, Mr. Dave Costello, Ms. Allison Harding, Ms. Carla D’Annibale and Ridley parent, Ms. Kim Arnold, the students spent eight days working with the Doppenbergs and their organization known as The DIG.

The Doppenbergs moved to Guatemala six years ago and have since dedicated their lives to helping those living in poverty. Their most recent project has been The School of Hope in El Progreso, Guatemala. This school, when complete, will give students with special learning needs a place to grow. “The School of Hope will be the first of its kind in the region, and will provide access to education for students who typically would not be able to go to school,” says Ms. Allison Harding, Intermediate Teacher. The School of Hope is set to open in early 2017 and our Ridleians spent the week making progress on its construction.

The students began their trip with a visit to El Salitrillo, the first village that the Doppenbergs began working with when they made their move from the Niagara region. While visiting, our Ridleians had the chance to play with some of the local children and visit the school that was constructed by The DIG last year. For some students, this was a chance to revisit the school they’d help build during the 2015 service trip. For the others, it was a chance to see what would become of this year’s project. After an inspirational first day in Guatemala, the students were ready to get started!

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Their first day on the work site was a tough, but rewarding day. The students spent several hours making progress on  The School of Hope. Laying cement and tying rebar was difficult work, but the students were happy to assist in any way they could. In the afternoon, the students visited the nursery run by the Doppenbergs. This nursery helps provide sustainable nutrition to Guatemalans living in El Progreso. Our students helped plant peppers and moringa trees (a plant that provides an incredible amount of nutrition), fill soil bags and place soil around the nursery. After a long day, Ridleians were able to look back and see all that they had already accomplished.

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“The work we did at the site was rather tedious but we managed to get a tremendous amount of work done… I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow”

– Nnamdi Chibuzor ‘21

For the rest of the week, the students continued to help in the nursery and make progress on The School of Hope. Over the course of only a few days, the students could see that they were having a positive impact on the community.

As the end of the trip approached, the students went back to El Salitrillo. The Doppenbergs had spent the last couple of years working on a way to bring clean water to the village. Before the system was completed, the villagers had to walk to a spring, located 15 minutes away, through rough terrain, where they would fill buckets with water and then have to trudge back through the path. Our Ridleians participated in a “water walk” to experience the challenging task that these villagers had to endure multiple times a day.

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“This was an eye-opening experience that undoubtedly left us all with a much greater appreciation for the clean drinking water that we have easy access to at home.”

– Ms. Allison Harding, Intermediate Teacher

The week had flown by, and after days spent working tirelessly, time spent exploring Guatemala and an experience of a lifetime, it was time to say goodbye. As our Ridleians left Guatemala and made the journey back home, they were asked to reflect on their experiences and how it had impacted them. It was clear that in only a week, these students had grown attached to Guatemala and the people who inhabit it. For many, it ignited a fire within them to do all they can to help those in need.

“This trip made me grateful for all that I have…. I hope to come again.”

– Paloma Moragrega ‘20

“I can’t stop thinking about how these two trips have impacted me as a person. I believe that I have grown as a person because of the experience I was able to have.”

– Sarah McCleary ‘19

“This trip had an impact on everyone in many different ways. We were able to see Guatemala from a perspective that most people aren’t able to experience and because of this, are able to learn and grow from it. This will truly be an experience that everyone won’t forget. From arriving on March 10th to departing on March 17th, everyone will surely be able to bring this story back home, spread the word and bring back even more people for next year.”

– Jasmyn Traboulay-Drach ‘19

Each year, these service trips give students the opportunity to experience what life can be like in the developing parts of the world. It is a humbling and enriching experience, that many Ridleians keep with them for the rest of their lives. We can’t wait to see what next year will hold and what opportunities will arise for our students to make a difference.

If you would like to donate to The DIG and help them complete The School of Hope, please click here.

Ridleian receives prestigious Loran Scholarship

The Loran Scholars Foundation is an organization, dedicated to the success of Canada’s most promising young students. Since 1988, the Loran Scholars Foundation has sought out students who demonstrate character, service and leadership, and helped support them in their post-secondary careers. Since their inception, they have invested in over 500 Loran Scholars and granted thousands of additional scholarship prizes.

Each year, the Loran Scholars Foundation receives over 4,000 applications. After a long process, which includes a multiple-essay application and an intensive interview process, only 30 are selected and named Loran Scholars. Those 30 individuals each receive a renewable undergraduate scholarship, valued up to $100,000, for the duration of their four years of post-secondary education. In addition to the monetary support, these scholars receive the opportunity to intern abroad for three summers, receive residency support and are connected with a mentor for the duration of their education.

This coveted scholarship can change the life of a student and can open doors to opportunities that they never thought were possible. This year, we are proud to announce that Ridleian, Grace Lowes ’16, has received the Loran Scholars title. During her Ridley career, she has truly embodied what it means to be a true Ridleian. In her time here, Grace has co-founded the Model U.N. group, formed a Days for Girls charitable activity on campus, been an active member of clubs such as the Syrian Refugee club and Positive Spaces Group, and has helped lead the school, during her final year, as a Prefect, among many other accomplishments. Grace has become a leader, an activist, a humanitarian and a proud member of the community in her years here at Ridley. We know that Grace will continue to lead and inspire change throughout the course of her post-secondary career and beyond.

The road to becoming a Loran Scholar is not an easy one, but Grace has truly earned it. This year, the Loran Scholars Foundation received 4,273 applications from students across Canada and only awarded 31, making Grace one of the top 0.7 percent of Canadian students from that pool.

Check out the articles about Grace’s achievement and the Loran Scholars Foundation!

To read the Globe and Mail article, click here.

To read the Welland Tribune article, click here.

 

Days for Girls – Transforming Our Globe

Every Thursday, a group of Ridleians meet in the Second Century Building to do their part in transforming our globe. Ridley’s very own Days for Girls group was launched in 2015 and is comprised of students, who are taking the initiative to start a global conversation here at Ridley.

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Days for Girls is a global organization that is on a mission to change the lives of women around the world. In many developing countries, feminine hygiene products aren’t available to women due to poverty or the social stigma that exists in their cultures, and subsequently, these women lose approximately 60 days per year, which they are forced to spend at home. Therefore, this charity’s mandate is to sew and assembles feminine hygiene kits that are then supplied to these woman, so that they can continue to live, go to school and go to work – all critical factors in social progress.

“The cycle of poverty is broken when girls stay in school”

– www.dayforgirls.org

These kits contain two shields that hold the liners and act as an anti-leakage barrier, eight absorbent liners, one washcloth, one bar of soap, two pairs of underwear, one visual instruction sheet, two-gallon size Ziploc bags and one drawstring bag to hold it all. These kits are designed to last for three years and equate to 180 days of income or school for these deserving women.

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Our Ridleians are proud supporters of Days for Girls and have been dedicated in helping this organization make a difference. Our team of students, along with the Niagara-On-The-Lake representative and Ridley parent, Linda Chang, sew and assemble the kit, which are then inspected at one of the Ontario chapters before being shipped to more than 85 countries, worldwide.

Looking to get involved and do your part to change the lives of woman globally?

The Ridley Days for Girls group is always looking for support! Student representative, Grace Lowes ’16, says that their group is always looking for fabric donations, monetary support and volunteers! If you’d like to find out how you can support this Ridley group, contact Linda Chang, through the Niagara-On-The-Lake group, at niagaraonthelakeon@daysforgirls.org.

You can also visit the Days for Girls Get Involved‘ portion of the site and find out how you can help in your own community!

Positive Change Ignites at Ridley College

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

– Nelson Mandela

December 10th is Human Rights Day – observed globally to commemorate the day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Ridleians went above and beyond to enact positive change in the world by participating in a number of events that took place on campus. Throughout the day and around every corner there were new opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved.

Students arrived on campus wearing red and green in support of Arthur Bishop West’s house charity, Congo Leadership Initiative. Contributions from this dress-down “grub” day were donated to the charity in support of a recently relocated Syrian refugee family.

In Upper School, from 8:00a.m. into the night, the Matthews Library was transformed into the drop-in workshop for Ridley’s own Amnesty Group. All students were invited to pay a visit to the library and write letters that took a stand on human rights issues. Within half an hour, 125 letters had already been written; by lunch, over 245 had been signed by Ridleians, pleading to end a number of unjust cases. Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes, faculty and staff dropped by to write their own letters, and students from Lower School stopped by to learn about this amazing cause.

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As the entire Ridley community continued to contribute to the Write for Rights event, another inspiring act had taken place in the Great Hall. Every table and wall in the Great Hall had been adorned with Post-It Notes. Each one with an inspiring message, urging its readers to “stay strong” or “never give up.” Led by the Positive Spaces Group, these positive sticky notes infused the dining hall with an optimistic energy.

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As classes concluded for the day, a group of Ridleians assembled in the Second Century Building (2CB) to help change the world. Each Thursday, this team joins together to make a difference in the lives of women living in developing countries. Led by Ms. Linda Chang and Prefect, Grace Lowes, members sew and prepare feminine hygiene kits for an organization called Days for Girls. These kits allow women, in developing countries, to carry on with their daily lives when they would otherwise be forced to forego school or work up to two full months each year.

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As the sun went down on the school day, so many acts of kindness and positive change had taken place on campus that it was impossible not to feel inspired.

Meanwhile, the Write for Rights event was forging ahead. Students piled in the library to help reach Ridley’s goal of writing 500 letters. Ms. Shelley Thomas, Faculty Advisor to Ridley’s Amnesty group, documented Ridley’s progress and along with her team, joined in on a twitter chat with the Secretary General of Amnesty Canada. By 10:00p.m., as the Write for Rights event came to a close, not only did had Ridley won Amnesty’s photo challenge, but an astounding 565 letters had been written for Amnesty International; a record breaking number for Ridley College.

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The winning photo of Amnesty International’s photo contest, taken by Ms. Shelley Thomas.

Whether they were writing, sewing, donating or posting, Ridleians made an impact and gained perspective on serious global issues. We all learned to be grateful for our circumstances and to use our power to assist others who are not as fortunate and wage a personal war. Each and every student joined together to make a difference and transform the globe. Their passion and kindness has inspired us all to be a part of positive change.