By Desiree Williams
Katey Richason said it was the one of the best experiences of her life. Fellow Zionsville Community High School junior Jillian Bond echoed the sentiment.
“I got to see a whole different part of the world I’ve never seen before and I got to meet people who were so welcoming,” Bond said.
Bond and Richason joined six other students Oct. 14-19 for a service-learning experience in Bolivia, led by Kelly Antcliff, director of youth leadership for the district, and Sarah Kiel, a first-grade teacher at Boone Meadow Elementary. As in 2018, the school partnered with Amizade, a nonprofit connecting students and faculty with service-learning opportunities around the world.
After selecting the student team in early spring, Antcliff said they met monthly to outline an itinerary that not only achieved the service-learning goals surrounding education, but also connected to the team’s interests. The district does not fund the trip, so the students also planned fundraising activities, such as babysitting, selling car decals and sending request letters to family.
In Bolivia, the group volunteered at schools in Quillacollo and Cochabamba, teaching English and working with students with special needs. The team also tiled a classroom and planted more than 20 trees along the school’s perimeter in the rural countryside.
“Our students were able to talk to students from the schools there about politics and their upcoming elections,” Antcliff said. “They were able to see what resources were available for the special needs students and kind of compare and contrast with what our special needs classrooms have. They were able to discover passions that they didn’t even know existed.”
Antcliff plans to offer the opportunity annually for all high school students. The selection process for the 2020 trip will begin after winter break.