Guest Post: Founding Summer Fellow Nere Eyeguokan

As a member of the Prep@Collegiate founding team, I had no other plan than to return to Prep this summer before embarking on a new career in Education. This Fall, I will be joining the BCSB team as a Collegiate Teaching Fellow. I’m extremely excited to begin working with all the boys, families, and the staff there.

In May, I graduated from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology and Leadership Studies. I was involved in several different leadership positions at FSU that have prepared me for life after college. During my sophomore year I served as a Rising Star in the EchoStars program where I completed 300 service learning hours with Americorps. I volunteered with organizations like the YMCA, the Salvation Army, Special Olympics, and the Cumberland Animal Shelter to name a few. I also served as both a Team Leader and Vice President of SafeRide, a shuttle service that runs from 10pm-2am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, during my junior and senior years. I spent most of my time working in the Student Activities Office with the University Programming Council, our student run activities board. I held several positions including, Assessments Chair, Business Operations Chair, and President for the 2017-2018 academic year. With these positions I was able to put my studies to practice, enhance my leadership skills and build long lasting relationships in the Frostburg community and beyond.

During my senior year I was accepted as a member of the President’s Leadership Circle (PLC). PLC is a distinguished group of 12 senior leaders on Frostburg State’s campus. It’s a unique experience where we have the opportunity to meet with the President of FSU regularly to learn from his experiences and wisdom. We also are involved in other small projects throughout the year and a cross-cultural trip.

This year, myself and five of my peers spent two weeks in Uganda over Spring Break. We ate the food, experienced the culture, learned the language (a little), saw elephants, lions, giraffes and so much more. Most importantly, we came to serve and to teach. We spent the majority of our time in the Pakwach District at Kinju Primary School. In this village, families live in huts made of dirt and clay with straw roofs. There’s no running water, plumbing, or electricity. They walk miles to the Nile River to get their water which they use for eating, drinking, and bathing. It’s a very poor community. At Kinju, there are 1007 students. There’s a total of 9 teachers including the headmaster to serve all these students. School supplies are limited, there are only 140 desks so most students sit and do their work on the ground. There are 304 students in P1 or kindergarden and 44 students in P7 or 6th grade. The dropout rate is high, as a lot of girls get married young and boys leave to go work for their families. Despite these conditions, the kids are full of joy and excited to come learn. Most of the students walk miles just to get to school in the morning, walk home for lunch and return for the remainder of the day.

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We built two structures there and taught the community safe water sanitation and hygiene practices, we also taught the SODIS method, which is solar water disinfection. With the help of some members of the community we built a water tank next to the school to collect rainwater, to reduce trips to the Nile. We also built a latrine in the village and encouraged them to continue to build them wherever they build a home. This entire trip was a very humbling experience, it also taught me a lot about myself and educational inequality.

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Bringing this back to BCSB, there’s definitely some inequality there as well. But the gap between them and the students in Uganda is much larger. They don’t have chromebooks or access to libraries and the internet in Uganda. However, we still have to attack the gap here in Baltimore and that’s what we’re attempting to do at Prep@Collegiate and will continue to do throughout the school year. There’s a quote by Frederick Douglass that says “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Building strong children isn’t just about educating them on Math and ELA but also their emotional intelligence, teaching them how to use their strengths and weaknesses to their benefit, and showing them how to succeed in a country where the black man is seen as dangerous.

I have goals of becoming a school counselor and eventually opening up a school in my Mother’s memory, who’s actions shaped me to be the person I am today. As I go on this journey, I ask for your support and I will do my best to serve the BSCB community as a whole.

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--Nere Eyeguokan