By Steve Sears
Victoria Corbett, 7th grade Earth and Space Science teacher at Lakeside School in Pompton Lakes, will be spending her summer vacation in a different way this year, as she travels to Africa to volunteer.
This is her first time ever volunteering abroad, and it was encouraged by an earlier canceled vacation trip, and a book. She explains. “In college, I was going to go study abroad in the Cayman Islands, researching coral reefs and the impact climate change is having on them. This trip got canceled two months before, so I was never able to go. Then during my first year at Lakeside, the students read I’ll Always Write Back, which is a true story of an American girl becoming pen pals and life-long friends with a young man from Africa. Hearing her story and how easy it was to give a little back to the world kind of gave me the push to help out.”
Corbett, who will be in Africa from June 6th through July 27th, had her trip funded in a few ways. “I started with a Fundly page,” she says, “and then discovered the shoe drive fund-raising concept. Once I told the PLEA (Pompton Lakes Education Association) they were excited to help in any way they could! Funds2orgs is the organization that picks up the shoes and ships to micro-enterprises in countries such as Haiti, Uganda, and India.” Funds2orgs which requires using their designated bags and packing them with 25 pairs of shoes in each. “There the micro-entrepreneurs clean and make the shoes like new in order to resell them for profit for their families.”
The Pompton Lakes school district also had a staff jean day to assist in funding Corbett’s trip. Other than the money raised from these efforts, the difference she is paying herself.
Corbett will be in Kairo Village for one week, assisting in building their first ever primary school. The building will be constructed using sustainable materials such as water bottles filled with sand and mud. She will also use her educating experience by assisting head teachers in teaching English to children and adults. “The second half of the trip I will be in Arusha (base of Mount Kilimanjaro) helping women in a co-op where I will be assisting with agricultural developments as well as microfinance projects. The last week of the trip will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with my volunteer group and learning about ecosystems there. I hope to bring some of this knowledge of the world back to the classroom as well as to my everyday life. I believe it will be eye opening to see how others live and learning other cultures.”
The notion of bringing “knowledge of the world back to the classroom” is huge for Corbett. “The trip and experience definitely lend themselves to my classroom. One unit I go over with the students is all about human impact as well as sustainability. Getting to see first-hand how different countries use the land and help preserve the environment will definitely lead my teaching to be more effective as well as worldly.”
Corbett is filled with gratitude for all the support she has received. “(I) just wanted to thank Pompton Lakes for all of the shoe donations as well as the support from the PLEA!”
The website for the volunteer group is www.givevolunteers.org.