STEMCivics stu­dents on a mis­sion in Haiti

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - L.A. Parker Colum­nist L.A. Parker is a Tren­to­nian colum­nist.

As United Na­tions peace­keep­ers de­part Haiti af­ter an in­aus­pi­cious stay, lo­cal stu­dents visit the is­land in­tent on chang­ing the world.

STEMCivics Char­ter School of Ewing stu­dents ar­rived in the Caribbean is­land Mon­day af­ter­noon with an itin­er­ary that in­cludes teach­ing English and help­ing with school con­struc­tion in a small com­mu­nity.

“We have a full sched­ule ahead of us,” Jodi Rus­sell, dean of STEMCivics, said.

Stu­dents and chap­er­ones made an ini­tial trip in May 2016. They taught English classes, vis­ited an or­phan­age, helped stu­dents setup e-mail ac­counts, and as­sisted in re­build­ing a school that was de­stroyed by Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

Sim­i­lar plans ex­ist for this sec­ond trip as stu­dents learn on the go. Jay­onna Ti­rado-Mack, Tis­honna Cherry, Jamiya Cald­wellCarter, Jonelle Grier, Ajia Mack­ins, Kai Clarke-James, Ays­satu Keita, Talaya Gore, Nazih Lewis and Jas­mine Ceveda were se­lected for this mis­sion.

“The ben­e­fits of this mis­sion is enor­mous; from be­ing in­cluded in the plan­ning and meet­ing stages by hav­ing a say in what they would like to of­fer the stu­dents — things they would like to share or teach in­clud­ing games and other ways they would like to con­trib­ute, the process of get­ting their first pass­port, fly­ing for the first time for many, and then land­ing in a for­eign coun­try with a great sense of pur­pose,” Rus­sell ex­plained.

This trip is the first of many in­ter­na­tional trav­els for STEMCivics stu­dents. Rus­sell de­scribed the mis­sions as ben­e­fi­cial for men­tal ex­pan­sion.

“Each in­di­vid­ual mis­sion is unique and will pro­vide stu­dents with ex­pe­ri­ences that may change their lives. Know­ing that they are im­por­tant, other lives are im­por­tant and they can have a great im­pact on groups and in­di­vid­u­als in need is price­less,” she said.

“Most in­ner city stu­dents do not have these op­por­tu­ni­ties that are of­ten re­served for those in greater eco­nomic sit­u­a­tions but this school is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing our in­ter­na­tional out­reach and mis­sion pro­gram. We see the ef­fects it has on our stu­dents while they are on the mis­sion and when they re­turn home. They are changed and al­ways come back to us ask­ing what more they can do; they show the de­sire to con­tinue help­ing oth­ers and to go on even more mis­sions if pos­si­ble.”

Leigh By­ron, school founder, cur­rently vis­its Ghana ahead of a planned trip set for March 2018. In­ter­na­tional learn­ing con­tin­ues in Jan­uary when STEMCivics stu­dents visit Cuba.

The Ewing char­ter school presents its first grad­u­a­tion class in 2018.

“This school pre­dicts 100% grad­u­a­tion for our first grad­u­at­ing class,” Rus­sell said.

“These mis­sions will be a pos­i­tive ad­di­tion to their col­lege ap­pli­ca­tions and as well as their per­sonal view of them­selves, world views, and fu­ture ven­tures.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

STEMCivics Char­ter School of Ewing stu­dents visit Haiti this week as part of a teach­ing and learn­ing ex­pe­di­tion.

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