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Taking stock of the next generation

by Herb Duncan - Sunday, October 23, 2011


photo/SJHS

This article is courtesy of Telegraph Journal

Like a lot of aging -or should I say seasoned, sensible, rational and respectable - folk from time to time ask: "What's this younger generation coming to?"

With the sex, drugs and brain rattling rap.

You know, the generation with the oversized, gravity defying pants, body piercing, tattoos and multicoloured hair.

I had a first hand opportunity to see what many of these kids are up to last week. Under the capable direction of Adam McKim, a Saint John High School teacher, they were involved in a fundraising event called 'World Fair.'

Under the umbrella of the CHAT to the Future project (www.chattothefuture.org) the grade 11 students were in hopes of raising $700 dollars.

Raise $700 for what? Well it seems that this generation of high school kids, during the past couple years, had been selling necklaces made from scraps of multicoloured paper beads dipped in wax.

So where did they get the necklaces? The necklaces had been made and continue to be made by Ugandan orphans. It seems that the necklace sales had been so successful, the students decided they had enough money to build a primary school for those 179 industrious bead making orphans.

These kids seemed to realize that the key to reduce poverty and dependency can be found through education, so the SJHS kids built a modest school; Uganda isn't Canada so we're not talking millions of dollars we're talking thousands of dollars so forget the 20 to 30 maximum class size.

Now that they had a school with a few classrooms, a chalkboard and teachers - what about food?

After all it's not enough to simply feed the mind, the Ugandan students need a bit of food to maintain the body, right?

The student's efforts must now be directed towards raising the necessary funds that would go towards building a "sustainable" community. They needed an estimated $700 to provide seeds and animals so that these industrious Ugandan orphans could plant a garden, raise chickens and cows and in doing so could "feed themselves." Radical thinking these students, imagine $700 to build a sustainable community.

This is where the method and the madness behind the 'World Fair' came in. Grade 11 students would hold a food fair. They would cook and or provide traditional dishes from 36 countries from around the world. Egypt, Kenya, China, Cuba and the list goes on. Booths representing each country would be set up in the school cafeteria and the exotic food samples would be sold to anyone with a buck. They developed a simple business formula, one loonie for one sample or a toonie for three samples.

I personally tried a Pakistani dish called paklra made from potato, onion and cilantro - ut was delicious.

The plate of paklras was made by grade 11 student Robin Wood. She told me that it took her 5 hours to make the tasty morsels.

I then went on to sample, for a price of course, a few other goodies topped off with dark chocolate from Mexico.

As I wandered up and down the isles, I saw the oversized, gravity deifying pants, the backward baseball caps and multi-coloured hair. I also saw a lot of young adults that clearly care deeply about the world they live in and are prepared to do something about it.

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid my introduction to the less fortunate in the world might have been, "eat your porridge some hungry kid on the other side of the world be happy to have it."

I now have a better idea what many of the next generation is coming to. The next time you see one of these "next generation types" don't be too quick to judge.

I know I won't.

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