About a dozen students at Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School are preparing to embark on an eye-opening educational exchange to Kenya.
In May, the Angus students will be staying in a Me to We community near the Tanzanian border called Masaai Mara for 16 days to learn more about the ways of the Masaai people.
Grade 12 student Rachel Schneider, who hopes to one day work overseas as a nurse, expects to get a lot out of the experience.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting all of the kids at the school to see how they work together,” she said.
Teacher Stephanie Cryer said this is the first time the school will be sending kids on this type of trip.
“The program has been never been offered at a public school before, so the opportunity for them to do this is pretty rare,” she said.
In Kenya, the students will take part in a wide range of activities, from building a school, to going on a water walk, a safari, and visiting a medical clinic.
Grade 11 student Jade McKenna said they will also learn how to throw a spear from a Masaai warrior and take part in an exercise where they have to fulfill a gender role for the day.
“They have genders in a hat and you pick one out,” she said. “So if you pick a boy, you get to go to school and learn Swahili, and if it's a girl, you have to stay home and do the laundry.”
To prepare for the trip, the students have been learning more about the Masaai culture in class and practicing speaking Swahili.
So far they have mastered counting from one to 10 and they hope to pick up a few phrases over the next two months.
Grade 11 student Brendan Lemon has travelled to a lot of vacation destinations with his family over the years, but has never experienced anything like this.
“I’m really looking forward to it, it’s going to be something completely different,” he said.
It costs each student $5,000 to go on the trip, which can be hard to scratch together while trying to save for college or university.
To assist the students, the school is doing some in-house fundraising, but additional donations from the community are also being accepted.
Donations can be dropped off at the school’s main office during regular hours.
The school is located at 8505 County Road 10.
By Brad Pritchard