ME to WE - Service Learning in Action!
In the heat of July 2016, two teachers from Hants North Rural High School and Kennetcook District Elementary embarked on the trip of a lifetime to Ecuador thanks to ME to WE.
Maureen MacIntyre (Guidance, HNRH) and Bernadette Hingley (Resource & Early Literacy, KDS) spent three days helping to build a school in the community of Bellavista Baja deep in the Amazon Jungle. They were chosen to participate in the service-learning trip during a random-draw at WE DAY Atlantic last November in Halifax.
The Hants-area teachers joined eight other Canadian teachers, five teachers from the United States of America, ME to WE staff and community members digging holes for foundation and mixing and pouring cement, as well as cutting and bending re-bar. All of this work was done to support the ongoing construction of a library and technology centre for the village school.
“It was amazing. You are working side-by-side with the Bellavista Baja Community, because part of the Me to We is that we aren’t just coming to do for a community. They had to have a percentage that they paid, and agree to have people work,” said Bernadette.
“It’s not a handout. It’s a hand up,” said Maureen.
Temperatures of 32 and 33 degrees Celsius – with 100% humidity – were the norm, but those extreme temperatures and an elevation of 13,900 feet didn’t slow Maureen and Bernadette down. They happily recount working harder for those three days than at any other time in their lives.
Both know that their experience has changed them, and that the opportunity to share their experiences with students will have a global impact at their schools.
Hants North and Kennetcook students have been involved in WE DAY and service learning for the last three years. They have raised food for their local food bank and collected used clothing to allow those with less access good quality items in their home community. Knowing that Maureen and Bernadette were heading for Ecuador, students chose to raise funds to support the women of Bellavista in their efforts to stay and work in their home community. Bernadette and Maureen then had the opportunity to meet some of the women benefitting from the students’ support.
When asked about the power of attending WE DAY Atlantic and being part of this worldwide movement for students, Maureen had this to say: “It’s really making the world a little bit smaller [for students]. It’s all about ‘we’ not ‘me’. The actual excitement of the day is really hard to describe to someone who hasn’t been there. By the end of the day, the kids are almost levitating. On the bus ride home, it’s just talk, talk, talk. The students are saying “we can do this” and “we can do that”. We can do anything. We can make a difference.”
To learn more about Maureen and Bernadette’s experience, and the value of the ME to WE movement, watch their video.