Saturday, October 22, 2011

Un-doing the Expected

Yesterday, one of our students led a lunch-time fast to raise awareness of the famine in Somalia. That, in and of itself, is not something that is so uncommon in an educational setting. Student group after student group endeavors to raise awareness about one cause or issue or another. For over a week, Sara, the student, had been making announcements and she hosted a discussion about the famine. Sara is the student head of Amnesty International. What made the awareness exercise so unusual and so powerful was uncommon fund-raiser that accompanied the fast. In partnership with our school's "Service League", the student-led umbrella organization for all community service activities, a food-less,  or "un", bake sale was held to raise money to donate for Somalian relief. That's right. NO food was sold. Baking dishes and plates were put out and even some crumbs and sprinkles could be found here and there.
Instead of food, students and faculty found signs which indicated what a dollar could purchase in the equivalent of rice or some other food product.  The impact was tremendous. The donation jar quickly filled. I was surprised and pleased to learn later in the day that the donations were far greater than I had ever heard earned at any bake sale in the 25 years that I have been at my school.

Why did this succeed? I believe it was because the students tried something new. They challenged each other to look at information differently. For the rest of the day the halls were buzzing with student and faculty discussions about the impact of the "un"-bake sale.

If students are willing to try new things to teach each other, we should be at least as willing to do so as well.

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