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Class plans trip to Africa, visit to Awet School

In Our Village students will complete service projects

Every other year, students enrolled in the In Our Village class, which is taught by English department co-chair Mrs. Liz Browning, participate in a 12- to 13-day service project to Tanzania.

Every other year, students enrolled in the In Our Village class, which is taught by English department co-chair Mrs. Liz Browning, participate in a 12- to 13-day service project to Tanzania.

Andrew de las Alas, Reporter

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Mrs. Liz Browning has led the trip to Tanzania for the last few years. She, along with other students, spend 12 to 13 days playing and forming connections with children who live there, and plans are in the works for the group’s return trip this summer.  

Browning said that this school has developed and contintues to maintain a connection with the Awet Secondary School, located in Ngorongoro Crater. She said about the projects for this year, “We are installing rain barrels so they can harvest rainwater because water is a hard thing to have there.” 

In years past, the group has installed solar panels for electricity and electric cables to provide the electricity for bathrooms and dorms.

Students also will visit the town of Moshi in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, where they help in an orphanage. Browning said, “We’ll take flip flops, soccer gear and Beanie Babies, which they absolutely love.” Browning said that if anyone has old Beanie Babies, she would gladly take them off your hands. Just drop them off to her in her second floor Loretto classroom. 

The trip finds its origins in a book, “as all good things do,” said Browning, written by the Awet school. Browning said, “I thought this would be a really great service learning project for students at Cathedral.” The book is called In Our Village and details the stories of the people of the community. 

Browning mirrored this idea and now four, and eventually five, volumes of an In Our Village book have been created by compiling short narrative essays written by students here. Browning said “Every single one (of the essays) has a different flavor to it.” 

Browning said one of her favorite stories was written by Erin Macke, who is now a graduate student at Stanford. Macke wrote about the magic of coming to the campus at night and how she could find the presence of God there. 

Browning said her goal is to have the fifth edition of In Our Village out by the end of February. After the book is published, a book signing party will take place, and all proceeds will go toward the mission work done in Tanzania. In addition to book sales, money from Donegal’s bake sale, as well as the Trail of Terror at Halloween, also go toward the Tanzania trip and the service projects that students complete while there.

Browning said that this will most likely be her last trip, but has kept returning because “while I love the kids in the classroom, I really love seeing them outside the classroom doing the good stuff they do. It really enforces what we teach you,” she said. 

By embarking on a trip like this, students are able to grow and better live out the Holy Cross values learned at school. Browning said, “We talk a lot about diversity and what it means. If you only hang out with people who look like you or talk like you, it is harder to expand your world view. While going to Tanzania may be slightly extreme with money and time, getting out of what makes us familiar makes us a better person of the world.”

Browning is proud of what the Tanzania trip has led to. “Out of the 80 kids over the last 10 years, three kids have gone to study in Tanzania in college, one is serving in the Peace Corps, and eight have studied Swahili in college. I’m proud of the work they’re doing.” 

That work will continue this summer.

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