By Marlena Szymczak
Yes, there are good people left in this world; Make their actions known.
I had a teacher in high school–Mr. Weiss. I had him for AP Macroeconomics. Yet, when I came into his classroom, he resembled much more than the everyday econ teacher. He embodied what it meant to really teach. He led by example, and this is why what he does should be recognized over the superficial topics our generation claims to “care” about. He always would say that he doesn’t do what he does for fame, and I think that is what makes his actions genuine.
What is it that makes this econ teacher much more than just an econ teacher? He doesn’t teach from the textbook; he teaches from the heart. In 2009, Mr. Weiss went on his first trip to Kenya, where the conditions in which people live are far different than the environments we are privileged to have. People in Kenya live in poverty—in mud huts. They don’t have the luxuries we do, and one of those luxuries is access to an education. In Kenya, only about 20 percent of children even make it to high school.
This is where Mr. Weiss steps in. Named after his parents, the Bernard and Elsie Weiss Dago Scholarship Fund gives hope to the kids in Dago, Kenya. With the help of all of the proceeds from the fund, kids in Dago are able to go to high school. The total cost for one child for all four years is $3,000, and that covers everything—textbooks, room and board, tuition, etc. In January 2016, Mr. Weiss announced that the program will sponsor seven students. Today, the total number of kids sponsored by the Fund has grown to 24.
During my senior year, I received the opportunity to personally meet a student that was given the chance to go to high school and later college here in the U.S. due to a scholarship from the Hilde Back Education Fund. His name is Kimani, and he is the most vibrant, charismatic, and intelligent person I had the chance to meet. Like Kimani, all of the kids who receive scholarships have the potential to thrive and further their education.
Thanks to people who are willing to lend a helping hand, kids coming from a place with little hope are able to grow. We can’t all make a difference in the world, but if we can even spark a conversation, make this heard, then it is a step in the right direction. In the words of Mr. Weiss: “the way we change the world is one person at a time.”
From Kanye West to the local community organizer, those who rise to fame do so because we let them. Often times, it’s not what they are doing that receives the fame, it’s the face—the identity—that becomes known. That’s all on us; we buy it. We make it viral.
So instead of worrying about who Taylor Swift is or isn’t dating, what the next Kardashian is or isn’t doing, let’s try and make this a topic we can share. Let’s focus on the future education of children. If you were in Mr. Weiss’s class, you know what I’m about to say next…
To donate money please go to www.hopefordago.org and click donate on the top right. Go to the dropdown menu and choose “Weiss Scholarship Fund”. Then make your donation and click “Donate Now”. If you want to donate by check, you can mail a check to “Village Volunteers” (5100 South Dawson Street, Suite 202, Seattle WA 98118 USA). Write “Weiss Scholarship Fund” on the memo line. All donations are tax deductible.
Thank you, Marlena, for sharing this with us and the world!