Algonquin students who taught youth in the Dominican Republic over reading week were inspired to continue their efforts for positive change even after returning to the comforts of home.
The 22 students hit the ground running upon arrival back in Canada, immediately moving from teaching kids English, to raising funds for a new learning centre in Jinotega, Nicaragua.
The group gathered in the Student Commons on March 7 to produce a promotional video for the fundraiser by speaking about what impacted them the most during their time in the Dominican.
Each had a unique take, but a simple idea was universal: Selflessness.
“Although school and my program are really important to me, I want to spend time travelling the world and helping people,” said police foundation student Haleigh McKenzie.
“In the Dominican we were able to work with hundreds of students, but in Nicaragua, (Outreach360) is able to access only 40 students,” she said. “If we can be able to provide the opportunity that we gave (the Dominican children) somewhere else, that’s amazing.”
A fundraising goal of $25,000 by April 30 will be raised through donations, events and goods such as custom wood etching designs done by the applied research department.
They are also hoping to work with the college in raising these funds. One idea in the works is to have a car donated as a raffle prize, splitting the proceeds with Outreach360 and the Algonquin College Foundation.
Outreach360 is an international organization, so Algonquin is not the only school raising funds for the centre. There is a motivation to surpass everyone else, as the first group to reach $50,000 will gain the privilege to name the $450,000 facility.
Interior design student Nour Hannawi, said they already have a working name: A-Squad Learning Centre.
“That’s what we call each other,” she said laughing.
Spending even a short time around the A-Squad you can tell how dedicated and honest they are in the work they do. None of them saw the trip as an individual experience.
“That great feeling of helping didn’t have to end that week,” said Hannawi. “We can always help, even if we’re here.”
The SA’s clubs and communities coordinator Patrick Newell has done the Dominican Republic trip before, but sees a noticeable difference with A-Squad.
“This is the most determined group of students that I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “All I did was assist them in the Dominican Republic to help teach English for one week, and they came back with ‘Let’s build a school.’”
“Students like this make me love what I do.”
Little by little is their motto, but have their eyes set on big change. Bigger than what a single person can do on their own.
If you want to make a donation, you can go to donate.outreach360.org and search for the Algonquin College team page.