This summer, I have been really blessed to able to travel. In particular, I was able to visit my grandmothers in Zimbabwe, which is always great because I don’t get to see them all that often. My maternal grandmother now has 7 dogs- all German Shepherds and 4 of them puppies! They’re all so cute and that was definitely one of the best parts of my trip.
On the other hand, visiting Zimbabwe is always a sobering reminder of how lucky we are as students to have such wide-reaching opportunities and such a high quality of education, especially at Groton. I visited the Zara Center (http://www.zarascenter.org/), a non-profit organization that provides meals, educational assistance, guidance, and entertainment for disadvantaged children, specifically some of the many kids in Zimbabwe who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS and now depend on grandparents or other family members for care. For many of the children and teenagers that go to the Zara Center, it is the only time where they can play, learn, or talk, have a substantial meal, and be able to relax and act their age.
I was truly struck by how well mannered, eager to learn, and grateful the kids of all ages that I met were. My mom and I spent the day with the kids—I was mostly tutoring O Level (9th and 10th grade) students in math as well as playing the piano for the whole group, and my mom was helping elementary school kids with English reading comprehension. Talking to the older kids, I heard of the hopelessness that has entered the lives of many—one boy told me that many teenagers feel like doing well at school is useless in the current economy because even if you graduate with a college degree you are still unlikely to find a job. Still, he said, he hopes to get good grades in his exams and prays for change and opportunity in the future. As we return to the Circle this fall, having visited Zara will put a lot of things into perspective. Even though sometimes school is hard and we feel like giving up, I will always try to think of those who are not as fortunate, and be grateful for my education.