Zealous Zazu and Zoe!

My mouth had never been so dry, my cheeks had never hurt so badly, and my love for Freedom High school had never been so great. On Friday of last week it was confirmed that the partnership Zazu and I created with Tampa Bay’s Freedom High school is a success. From a starting time of 9:30am and an end time of 1:30pm, four hours of pitching the drive for school supplies and shipping funds for children in Afghanistan had commenced, and we still would’ve done more if the school day didn’t threaten to commence in an hours time.

Zazu and I in Mrs. Carr's History of Vietnam classroom. Picture courtesy of Mrs. Carr.

Zazu and I could tell on Friday that Freedom was not just taking this on as a favor, they took it on as a project and a challenge. The creative ways in which teachers and students were responding to our presentations in each class fueled our passion and discussion with the students even more. Classes, that we allotted one class period to, had request that we come back for additional periods throughout the day. Zazu and I even stayed in one class for the entire hour and took over the teacher’s lesson that day. He too was passionate about us explaining the project in full detail as well as allowing the soon to be college freshman to ask questions about USF.

After less than the first hour of advertising our purpose and cause Zazu and I had our speaking points so eloquently laid out that we could spend more time going to classrooms or emphasizing Senior Master Sgt Rex Temple’s story about the encounter with the one young boy so eager for the pencil in Senior Master Sgt Rex’s sleeve.

We were asked questions like when we would be back, if we could bring additional boxes, and when the courses calendar term ends, if they could keep their efforts to collect school supplies going. Needless to say, Zazu and I had smiles on our faces for all four hours.

Depicting the smile that couldn't leave the faces of Zazu and I the day we visited Freedom. Picture Courtesy of austinschools.org

Sure, Zazu and I knew the kids appreciated a wrench thrown into the days reading of “The Lady of Shallot” or the pushing of a quiz to the end of class time; but, we also knew that once we had begun talking about why we were there that genuine interest had ensued.

Such a drastic change occurred between the times our initial e-mails had been sent out, our meeting with the principal, the dropping off 5 boxes in two classrooms, to now leaving Freedom with 35 boxes throughout 10+ classrooms.

Discussing with the students of each classroom the need the Afghan children have for school supplies was satisfying; but, what felt even better was to talk passionately about something. To tell young adults that becoming zealous about something, if they haven’t already, is the most fulfilling emotion one could have. Personally, to know that I have gained meaning through this course and to know I have Afghan children relying on me, ME, for furthering their education is both a challenge, cause, and life change I am more than willing to welcome.

Myself in Jenna Ball's classroom, armed with the presentation materials right before presenting. Picture courtesy of Zazu.

If not for the children of Afghanistan then find what fits you. It may not always look optimistic that your efforts and dreams to fight for a cause will ever come to fruition; but, with time and four hours of talking and smiling something will happen….


About Zoe Stiling

Hi! I am currently a junior at the University of South Florida. I am majoring in English with a concentration in technical and professional writing with a minor in political science. I am entering the world of Wordpress for a class course and charitable cause “One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace”. I am on the USF rowing team and apart of the USF honors college. I am a first generation American of English decent and love to travel. For fun I enjoy reading, running and spending time with my friends and family. My current goal is to maintain my GPA and hard work ethic to prepare for acceptance into graduate school.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Awareness campaigns, Education, Partner schools, University of South Florida, USF Honors College and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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