Westridge Teams with OneKid OneWorld to Help Students in El Salvador

They may only be teenagers but that isn’t stopping a group of girls from Westridge School from packing up and traveling around the world to help those in need.

Westridge’s Upper School Interim Week is a week dedicated to experiential learning for all Westridge students. During the week of March 26, five Westridge high school students will travel to San Salvador, El Salvador. During the eight-day trip, the students will split their time running an after-school program at a local primary school, doing an extreme school makeover at a rural primary school and a cultural exchange with local high school students.

Participating senior Andrea Risolo was featured on Altadena Patch for the upcoming educational trip. Click here to read the story.

“Experiential and service learning are critical parts of the Westridge curriculum, and students annually participate in local, national, and international educational experiences,” said Elizabeth McGregor, Head of Westridge School. “Cultural exchanges and community service opportunities benefit not just the individual students and the host community, but also our entire campus community — students return from trips, and share and enact what they have experienced and learned.”

The students traveling to El Salvador selected it from several Interim options, and were required to submit an essay application. Passionate about the purpose and goal of the trip, the six girls have been meeting once every six days in preparation for the experience. Their dedicated time has been spent learning about El Salvador’s history, people, and culture, and planning lessons and activities to implement with after-school students in San Salvador.

“This experience will teach students leadership skills and is intended to cultivate a lifelong commitment to service and cultural exchange,” continued McGregor. “We also hope that the students will forge meaningful and lasting relationships with new friends in El Salvador.”

Westridge first partnered with OneKid OneWorld in 2007 as part of a Middle School Service Learning unit. Westridge, an all-girls school, has cultivated relationships with students at the Nyamasare Girls’ School in Kenya through pen pal letter exchanges, supply drives, and fundraisers through its relationship and annual service learning collaborations with OneKid OneWorld.

“OneKid OneWorld is dedicated to helping students in impoverished countries get the tools they need for a solid education,” said Josh Bycel, founder of OneKid OneWorld, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization. “I’m confident that this trip will not only be an eye-opening experience for the young women but I hope it also sparks a life-long passion for philanthropic work.”

Over the past five years, OneKid has raised more than $600,000 with 93% of every dollar going directly to recipient schools. Classrooms have been built, educational materials and teachers’ salaries have been provided. Additionally the organization was able to build six solar-power buildings in Kenya so students are able to study at night.

“When you think about what these students don’t have and what they in need to order to get an education it can be overwhelming. But our goal is to help people realize that every little bit counts. One book, one painted wall, one school at a time,” said Tracy McCubbin, the co-executive director of OneKid OneWorld.

The great work of OneKid has attracted some of Hollywood’s most recognizable names. Actress Stephanie March sits on the board of OneKid OneWorld while Kristen Cavallari is the group’s celebrity ambassador.

“OneKid believes every child has a right to education,” said March while on a volunteer trip to El Salvador last October, “And OneKid is here to make sure there are classrooms for them to learn in.”

Various Westridge Interim experiences will include students assisting in Pasadena Unified School District classrooms at Field Elementary, McKinley School, and San Rafael Elementary; exploring the ethnic and cultural heritage of Los Angeles; studying California’s underwater ecology from Catalina Island; as well as immersive, cultural, and service learning experiences in China, Italy, and with the Hopi and Navaho Nations in Arizona.

OneKid OneWorld is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the basic needs of learning fundamentals to impoverished communities around the world. Check out the inspiring work: www.onekidoneworld.org

Founded in 1913, Westridge School is an independent day school for college bound girls grades 4-12. Westridge strives to develop young women whose joy in learning, personal ideals, commitment to ethical action, social and environmental responsibility, courage and compassion will lead them to meaningful lives as contributing citizens of the larger world. For more information about the school, visit www.westridge.org.

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