Service Trip to Zimbabwe
Servant leadership is at the heart of the Brookstone education. And over winter break, four of our upper school students had an amazing opportunity to take the lessons learned here and carry them around the world to Zimbabwe.
Below is a guest blog post about the trip written by junior Graham Wolff.
When I signed up to go on the Zimbabwe trip, I really did not know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if there would be lions prowling around, dirt roads everywhere, big cities, or villages. But I decided to travel with an open mind, ready to try anything and everything (I even ended up trying a Mopani Worm which was absolutely disgusting).
My fellow travelers were juniors Sammi Rice and Evans Blanchard, and sophomore Mary Stewart Mullin, faculty members, Mrs. Cindy Sparks, Mrs. Catherine Trotter, and Mr. David Cowser. Our hosts were Columbus residents Dr. Steve and Mrs.Jane Beaty. Dr. Beaty grew up in Zimbabwe and still performs medical mission work there each year. He asked Dr. Butch Wolff and Dr. Luke Wolff (who happen to be my grandfather and father, respectively) to join us as well.
As I said, before we left the states, I really didn’t know what to expect. But when we arrived, I was blown away. The city of Johannesburg is almost the same size of Atlanta, an enormous city. It almost felt as if we had never left Atlanta in the first place! It was such a strange experience!
We spent the first night in Johannesburg and caught an early flight to our destination, the city of Bulawayo, home of Brookstone’s partner school, the Petra School. The second night of our trip, the head boy and head girl from Petra, which could be comparable to our student government association, came over for dinner at the Beaty’s house. Before they arrived, I was thinking to myself, “Oh they probably won’t speak much English and it will probably be somewhat awkward.” But when they walked in the door, I was completely taken off guard. The students both spoke fluent English and even had a faint British accent. The whole night was full of laughs and it ended up being one of my favorite nights in Zimbabwe. Because of this, I learned that I should never judge someone or something before I have experienced it first hand. I could not have been more wrong about what it was going to be like to meet these students.
Over the next few days we visited several orphanages and farms. It broke my heart to see these kids who had very little – nothing but one or two outfits and a bed. Some of them did not even have shoes to wear. I was amazed by their attitudes. Everyone was so welcoming and always joyful no matter their circumstances. Everyone was smiling. I was stunned to see how content they were with so very little. It was just one more thing that was completely different from what I had anticipated.
We played with the kids and even did some sports clinics, playing tennis and soccer with them.
At the farms, we helped load and transport hundreds and hundreds of eggs to town so they could be distributed to local schools and hospitals. I’ve never seen that many eggs in my entire life.
The next day we went to visit Petra. Petra is very similar to a high school in America. They have classrooms, auditoriums, athletic facilities, just like an American school. I even sat in on a literature class that was studying Shakespeare. I also got to see a sewing class, a culinary class and a material design class. It was very impressive.
The students were just like normal high-schoolers; they had their favorite TV shows, favorite sports, etc. They were so nice and friendly that we all bonded quickly. I hope I can come back and see them one day. Perhaps some could even come over here and stay for a week or two, just to see what America is like. The school was amazing and I would love to go back and sit in on some more classes.
Due to government red tape, we were unable to do the eye-clinic which was originally part of our plan, but I was able to go to the local hospital, Bulawayo Community Hospital, with my dad and watch as he performed orthopedic surgery on children and adults.There were more patients waiting for him than he could have ever handled in a short time period, much less one or two days. So they picked the cases they needed the most help with in order to teach the local doctors how to do them.
After our time at Petra, we were able to do a little sight seeing. We traveled to beautiful Victoria Falls and were even able to go on safari. Everything was absolutely breathtaking.
This was by far the best trip I’ve ever taken in my life. I had amazing experiences that I will never forget; I made new friends; and I learned more about myself and the world around me than I ever thought I would.
**A special thanks to all those who traveled for their pictures, especially Tristan Cairns, for his professional photos.