Bronx and Bridgeport to Bush

“In my neighborhood dropping out is common. I would say 48 percent of a high school’s [graduating class] doesn’t graduate in our school and it’s definitely sad because they think they are doing the right thing when they drop out,” buildOn student Shateka said. “But, the students here would kill for an education.”

One of Shateka’s main takeaways from her recent Trek trip to Malawi is that students in the United States do not necessarily value the educational opportunities they have been given. This became apparent when she was introduced to a community where many youth do not have any access to education. They never begin school in the first place, rather than making the conscious choice to drop out. often this is because they cannot access school structures or teachers from their communities. Other times, their families cannot the afford school fees or supplies, such as uniforms.

In many developing countries, education is touted as the ticket out of poverty. Similarly, statistics prove that high school and university graduates in the United States have access to more opportunities and earn more than those who never complete school.

The National Center for Education Statistics says that American students with a bachelor’s degree make an average of $23,700 more per year than those without, and those with a high school diploma make an average of $7,000 more per year when compared to someone with no diploma at all.

As of 2012, 58 million primary school-aged children are out of school, often because of opportunity cost. Their families believe that the children’s ability to help at home, especially with farming, seemingly outweighs the benefits of education. This is especially true in countries where families must pay for schooling themselves.

Shateka can now use her Trek experience as a call to action. She can play a role in changing student mindsets in her own community by encouraging her peers to value education.

This proves firsthand that working with communities around the world to help students learn better also has a direct influences on America’s students, as they learned to value their own education all the more.