If one of the goals of education is to prepare students for the world outside the classroom, then high school junior Katie Conners has more than achieved that goal. In June, the Sunfish Lake resident will make her second trip to Ndola, Zambia (located in south-central Africa) with a group of students and chaperones from Visitation School, a trip she has prepared for in ways that reflect her commitment to service and her understanding of the many tasks involved in fundraising.
“After coming back from Africa last year, I had a feeling that doing this service project is exactly what I should be doing at this point in my life,” said Katie. “I learned so much from the first trip: I was able to see my faith in a new light, rediscover the joy of service, and make some great friends along the way; and I can’t wait for another opportunity to be able to experience that again.”
This trip is Team Mutomo’s third sojourn to Africa since the group’s inaugural visit to Kenya in 2011. In preparation for the trip, Katie and her schoolmates, dubbed Team Mutomo, have been raising funds to donate to the Dominican Sisters, who run an orphanage, medical clinics, and educational facilities in Zambia. Part of their fundraising is a 5K Fun Run/Walk (see below).
“In order to plan this fun run, I have had to be very organized,” said Katie. “Three years ago I would not have been able to pull something like this off, but now, with the organizational skills that Visitation has given me, I can assist in smoothly executing the…Team Mutomo fun run. In addition, the leadership role that I have taken due to my previous experience with the group and on the trip…would have previously been completely out of my comfort zone if it wasn’t for the sports teams and clubs at Visitation that have taught me how to be a good leader.”
While in Zambia, the students and chaperones will engage in a variety of activities, including caring for children at St. Anthony’s orphanage, a facility run by Sisters from the Dominican Order that serves almost 100 young people, many of whom are disabled. In addition, the group’s chaperones, half of whom are doctors, nurses or dentists, will work alongside medical professionals in the Ndola community, with Visitation students assisting them in that work. Team Mutomo will also visit local schools and lend a hand to the Dominican Sisters in larger chores, such as whitewashing and painting.
“Going to Africa has changed how I view service,” said Katie, who, upon her return from last year’s trip to Zambia, worked two jobs so that she could save enough money to go on the trip again. “Prior to last year’s trip, I did service because I was told it is the right thing to do. Now, I participate in service because I have seen the benefits that can be reaped from it and know just how valuable even the smallest actions can be.”
Students Raising Funds for Trip
Team Mutomo is trying to raise a minimum of $10,000, almost all of which will be given as a gift to the Dominican Sisters in Zambia. In order to achieve this goal, Team Mutomo is hosting its 3rd annual 5K Fun Run/Walk, with the hopes that hundreds of people in the community will join in the fun. The 5K Fun Run/Walk will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 20, starting at Visitation School in Mendota Heights.
The cost per person for the run/walk is $20. Every participant will receive a Team Mutomo t-shirt and snacks. Registration on the day of the event is $25 per person. To register, please visit www.visitation.net, enter Team Mutomo in the search box, and click on the 5K Registration link.
Individuals who are unable to participate in the Run/Walk but who would like to make a financial donation to this work are invited to send contributions to Team Mutomo at Visitation School, 2455 Visitation Drive, Mendota Heights, MN 55120. Please write Team Mutomo in the memo line. For more information, contact Elizabeth Arnstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.