Friday, March 30, 2012

Southwest and Sabawoon

By Genevieve Buthod

This semester, I have had the terrific opportunity to combine my humanitarian impulses with my involvement in Computer Science. SXU’s head of the Computer Science department, Dr. Jean Mehta, has given me and another student the opportunity to build a website for a school, Sabawoon. This school is in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa north-western province of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, and primarily serves Afghan refugee children who have difficulty accessing federal resources to education in Pakistan.

The school happens to be supported, in part, by Evergreen Park’s very own Southwest Elementary School. I was fascinated by this connection, by the concept of children supporting the education of other children that I decided to visit Southwest and talk to the kids themselves about their efforts.

I spoke with the 1st graders first and learned that they absolutely love school. Much of our conversation revolved around their enthusiasm for each of their favorite classes. The top favorite, however, was reading. They feel proud of themselves when they can read on their own. A few mentioned that they try to read to younger siblings, as well.

The sixth graders spoke with me about the importance of education for leading a happy and successful life overall. They believe it is interesting to learn about other cultures and see what people do differently, but, perhaps more importantly, how similar their lives are to our own in many respects. We spoke about the importance of learning about news from all over the world, not just our own neighborhoods (or campuses).

These kids are helping Sabawoon by, first of all, learning about the situation faced by the children who live in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The first and sixth graders all knew that the kids who go to Sabawoon must work for the other half of their day, after they are finished with school. They believe that they have the power to help change the lives of these other children through education, and are working on a quarter project to help raise money to build a solid, brick-and-mortar school for Sabawoon.

I feel very lucky to have had the chance to speak with the classes at Southwest about their efforts to help build a school in a place they may never visit. I saw that these kids place such a high value on the ideal of education that they are willing to extend that chance to other kids, all the way around the world, who they may never meet. The simple idea of doing something meaningful for the sake of itself is enough, and I believe this is a lesson everyone can stand to learn in their lives.

Genevieve Buthod is a sophomore, and a major in Computer Science with a minor in Philosophy. She is a happy and healthy vegan. She is also the TIAA-CREF Campaign Manager for Students for Justice in Palestine. Genevieve is the Senior Viewpoints Editor for the Xavierite.

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