buildOn Bridgeport student Kenan

Students on Trek: Meet Kenan from Bridgeport, CT

This summer, we’re fundraising to send six buildOn U.S. students on a life-changing Trek to build a school in one of our partner countries. Keep reading to learn more about Kenan’s story and how Trek would impact his life.

Kenan is Bridgeport born and raised and has been looking forward to joining buildOn since he was just 7 years old!

“My aunt did buildOn when she was in high school and ever since I was really interested. I said, ‘I wanna do this when I grow up,’” Kenan shares. Then in his freshman year of high school he finally got the chance. “I saw the posters for buildOn, but freshman year was crazy busy,” he recalls. “But as soon as sophomore year hit, I was ready!”

So far Kenan’s favorite buildOn service project has been a beach cleanup during spring break when they did a different service project nearly every day. One of his favorite ongoing services is when they assemble and clean medical supplies for the elderly for free.

Kenan assembles free medical equipment for seniors

In 2023, Kenan had the opportunity to attend buildOn’s annual Gala in New York with two of his friends. There, he took part in an immersive virtual reality experience and got to see what it’s like to go on a buildOn Trek which he said was “amazing!”. He also heard a speech by buildOn alum (and now staff member!) Othello Herbert, and it really left an impression on him.

“His story was really moving,” Kenan says. “If I wasn’t already interested in Trek, it made me even more excited!” And this school year, as soon as he was invited to apply, he jumped at the chance.

“It’s the kind of experience you might never get a chance to do again,” says Kenan. “It really makes you appreciate the little things you have. You don’t notice how much you have until you see people who don’t have it.” 

This summer, Kenan is headed to Senegal and has enjoyed learning more about the country in his world history class and pre-Trek meetings (informational sessions that prepare participants for the experience). He’s also excited that Senegal is a Muslim country because he too follows Islam. In fact, he actually met his Engagement Specialist Al’ Urdun Islam before he even joined buildOn when they served together at their mosque. 

“I saw him at the mosque doing community service. We’d volunteer at the food pantry every Sunday serving over 280 families. We give out huge boxes of really high-quality food every week,” Kenan shares. “It’s a really good option for Bridgeport… you can really see the poverty line here. There’s the rich end and the downtown, not so nice area. It’s definitely noticeable…”

Kenan says that their mosque is located right in the middle of the lower-income area of Bridgeport on the main road. “It’s kind of right smack in the middle of different cultures and people and social classes… it benefits everyone,” he says.

Kenan at service with his buildOn Engagement Specialist Al’Urdun Islam

“I like the feeling of doing new things… living life to the fullest and doing as much as I can and spending as much time as I can doing things for other people.” 


For Kenan, it was really meaningful to have known his engagement specialist before joining buildOn. “Ever since then, I’ve been going to as many buildOn services as I can,” he says. “It’s not only the bond that we already had contributing to our community, but also the work buildOn does in general.”

As for Trek, Kenan says he’s not really nervous. “I like trying new things. I try to put myself in areas where I’m always doing something new. I like the feeling of doing new things… living life to the fullest and doing as much as I can and spending as much time as I can doing things for other people.” 

Help Kenan build a school in Senegal this summer by making a gift today.