After the nine-day trek, climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro, the 23 climbers visited poverty-stricken towns.
“The kind of poverty, the lifestyle, was something we’ve all seen on TV. But there’s a difference between knowing about it and being there,” said McKenzie Dillman, junior and member of the Outdoors Club, on the African village that Oswego Going Global (OGG) visited in Tanzania.
They visited two towns as part of a wind-down after the monumental achievement of being the only state school to successfully organize and make the climb up Kilimanjaro. All climbers reached the summit. OGG brought a duffle bag of school supplies to help a struggling secondary school that they visited in Arusha.
“There was 1100 kids to six faculty members,” Dillman said. “You were lucky if you had a backpack. You were even luckier if you had something to carry in it. How are you supposed to teach children in conditions like that?”
Students were not the only ones working with less-than-adequate tools.
“Some of our porters were wearing bowling shoes or flip-flops made out of tires,” junior Stefanie Cornnell said. “I know if I was planning to go on a climb back home dressed like that they wouldn’t even let me on the mountain.”
The Outdoors Club is having a gear drive on Tuesday, March 27, collecting material to send back to the guides that helped them during the summit. Dillman stressed that the Outdoors Club was willing to take anything students could afford to let go of. Socks, especially, were a crucial supply during the trip that many of the students gave whatever they could spare of to their porters.
“When [Dillman] says anything and everything he’s pretty serious,” Cornell said. “They don’t have anything compared to what we have.”
Mehran Nojan, founder of the OGG and Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, emphasized in her explanation of the OGG that while an important achievement, the founding idea was to foster the sense of being a global citizen.
“Reaching the top is the goal, but it is not the point of the entire class,” Nojan said. Nojan plans to use the success of the OGG to fund the dream that the club was built upon, to start a study abroad scholarship to aid low-level income students who wish go take part in international education programs.
“Financial resources are one of the biggest obstacles that students face,” Nojan said.
Individual donors among major corporations and even students on campus could bring a life-changing experience to individuals who would not otherwise be able to take part.
“If a student could spare $5 it would be a step in the right direction,” Nojan said.