buildOn Student Reflections: An Application to Serve

For buildOn students in the U.S., traveling to construct a buildOn schoolhouse internationally is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.  For many students it’s their first time traveling out of their community, let alone the country.  And while it’s nothing like a vacation, it is a chance for students to fully immerse themselves in another culture while providing a community with the access to education they so desperately need.

Learn more about the Trek for Knowledge program.

Every year buildOn chooses two students from each of our 118 after-school programs to travel to build a school with us.  The students are selected based not only on their participation in buildOn, but also on their dedication to service in their own communities and their ability to articulate how the experience will impact their lives.

Right now buildOn staff members are reviewing applications and conducting interviews for our spring “treks” to Haiti and Malawi.  As part of their application process, students write essays explaining why they would like to be chosen.

I read one of these essays yesterday and it was a shining example of the “trek” applications we receive every year from students across the country.  I had had to share it with you.   Enjoy!

Trek for Knowledge Application Essay

By Rodney, a junior at Global Visions Academy (Chicago)

buildOn has been a great experience for me.  When I was first approached about buildOn, Ms. Abbe [my program coordinator], was explaining to me and other classmates what a great experience it would be.  Little did I know how right she was!

buildOn has taught me to be a better leader, take responsibility, work with others, and help those who need it.  My new found traits did not just end with buildOn projects; they have carried over into my everyday activities and goals.  I find myself doing better in school, getting better grades, and taking the initiative to do what’s important first instead of putting it on hold.

I am an athlete and I love playing sports.  Thanks to buildOn and what it’s taught me I have become a much better leader.  I went from being a good football player to a great teammate.

Looking back at my first project, I did not know what to expect.  I was not even properly dressed for the activity they had planned for me.  We were going downtown to these apartment buildings that house people who need help starting over with their life.  They needed us to help one of the family’s move their stuff from their current apartment to a bigger one.

When my program coordinator told me that, it discouraged me a little bit because it was not my stuff I was moving.  I had to realize this was not about me.  It was about helping people who need it and just doing something right.  Through the entire process I was pushing myself to keep going, and reminding myself of the importance of getting it done.  After, I felt as if I had accomplished more in that one day then I did in my entire life.

The feeling I had, making a difference in someone’s life, made me feel so great.  Finally I found something that put me to the test and I did well at it.

That is what drives me to continue doing buildOn and that is what buildOn means to me.  I have done many buildOn projects since my first, and learned quite a few things.  If I am chosen to go on the trip to Malawi it will mean much more than a chance to go to Africa.  It would be a chance to make a definite impact on this world.  Building a school in Malawi will help so many kids lives and that’s why I want to do it.  10 years from now I want to look back and know I didn’t pass up such a great opportunity.  When I have kids I want them to listen to my story and encourage them to do something great.