The Global Goals program is a living classroom where we work with Malawians to refine what it means “to give.” In Malawi, we work at a grassroots level supporting communities that are empowering their own youth to create change. We aim to give witness to their ability to help themselves and draw awareness to their problems and achievements. As at VVS, it is the building of relationships that is most important, as these then empower Malawians to be the change for their own country.
Now in its eleventh year, the program came about as many programs at VVS have – we saw a need and formed a collaboration among students, faculty and local benefactors to reach out to a community and to educate our own. Each year students and faculty work on service projects based on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (now called Global Goals), providing education along the way and culminating in a June trip to Malawi, Africa. Just as relationships define VVS, we strive to build relationships through Global Goals. Our work in Africa has always been accomplished in collaboration with Malawians – asking them what they need and not assuming we know those answers. Constructing buildings and concrete work projects were our first focus, but our work has evolved to better align with our mission. We work at a grassroots level supporting emergent communities that are empowering their own youth to create change. We give witness to their ability to help themselves and draw awareness to their problems and achievements.
As part of our 4 year comprehensive curriculum, VVS students learn to plan, fund, execute and assess real world service projects and business ventures. It is self-serving in that our students often gain more than they give. Through this program we learn, sometimes firsthand, what it means to live in a UN designated “red” nation; to shed beliefs that limit our ability to interact without judgment; to listen, discern and develop empathy; to realize we know less, but are inspired and empowered more, to seek creative answers to the world’s largest problems. In effect, students become passionate, effective changemakers for life. The real beauty is that the by-product of our students’ evolution is that certain needs of others are met as well. It is a powerful win-win.
“Serving others submerged in the unfamiliar has shaped the way I perceive different cultures and has shown me how important volunteering is to our world.”
– William Schwindenhammer, Class of 2018
“I could write about countless moments; every day was a new adventure and a new insight, but the aspect of the trip that stuck out the most was how much education meant to the people we came across, specifically girls.”
– Hanna Hartwig, Class of 2018
“Through Malawi I discovered how easy my life is and how privileged I am to have food, water, and an education right in front of me with no form of struggle.”
– Alexandre Tehfi, Class of 2018