Students were political canvassers, escape room artists, physicists, fashionistas, inventors, thought leaders, collaborators, activists, change agents, and boat builders, among many other identities, during Project Week 2019.
By Miro Bergam '19, Ethan Malzberg '19, and Ketaki Tavan '19
Inspired by the success of last year's Charity Night for The Denan Project (TDP), through which we were able to fund TDP's water tanker in Ethiopia for nearly two years, we decided to host the event again this year.
The Second Annual Charity Night for TDP took place on Friday, April 13 in the Hostetter Arts Center. (The Denan Project is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to providing critical aid to communities in need around the globe.) Our goal this year was two-fold: to educate the attendees about tuberculosis and its impact on the people of Ethiopia as well as to raise enough money to rebuild TDP's tuberculosis ward at their hospital in Denan, Ethiopia. TDP's previous ward, which had been largely constructed of sticks, twigs, and stucco, completely collapsed down to rubble and desperately needed to be rebuilt. With all funds matched by a generous donor, we were able to raise over $9,000 at the Charity Night. Moreover, thanks to the generosity of local restaurants and markets, who donated all of the food for the event, 100 percent of the donations raised will go towards this important improvement to the hospital.
Nearly 100 people were in attendance at the event, including representatives from The Denan Project who made the drive from Woodbury, Connecticut. The night started off with various ways to learn about TDP, donate to the cause, and socialize. Isabel DeVito '19, Ariel Li '21, Paige Maultsby '19, and Grace Wang '21 each painted or drew re-creations of photographs taken by the president and founder of TDP, Dick Young, at TDP's four sites around the world. These paintings were raffled off in a bundle with TDP merchandise and a copy of Displaced in Denan, a photo book by Jarret Schecter, former Vice President of TDP and our mentor. We also recently redesigned TDP's merchandise—t-shirts, crew necks, sweatshirts, and hats—all of which were sold at the event.
The event also featured three "booths" to educate guests about the organization. One booth featured the "One Today" profile we created through Google for Nonprofits, and we showed attendees how to get involved through the app. Another booth taught attendees about tuberculosis, which despite being eradicated in the United States, still impacts many people in the places TDP helps (Denan, Ethiopia; Uratari, Peru; Tariat, Mongolia; and the Navajo Nation in Arizona). The third booth focused on "Peru with Purpose," a trip, scheduled for June, which we designed in collaboration with Mr. Jewett, Pingry's Director of Global Programs. "Peru with Purpose" is Pingry's first-ever student-led Global Programs course, and the booth taught guests about what students are looking to accomplish through the trip by visiting TDP's site in Uratari, Peru, as well as the two other non-governmental organizations, Awamaki and Sacred Valley Health.
After 45 minutes of mingling, eating, and learning, guests moved into Macrae Theater for the program portion of the night. We began the program by speaking about our work with TDP and how it has evolved over the years to mean many different things to us. By participating in TDP's board meetings and working with Pingry's trip committee to design a Global Programs trip and course, TDP has been our first foray into the professional world and our first chance to stand on equal footing with adults. TDP has been a completely unique learning experience that cannot be emulated in a classroom. Most importantly, TDP has taught us the unquantifiable yet tangible value of charity and giving, and how this giving helps everyone it touches.
We then introduced the future leaders of The Denan Project Club at Pingry: Noah Bergam '21, Alison Lee '21, and Grace Wang '21. These three underclassmen will be taking over the reigns of the club after we graduate in 2019. Ms. Hartz, Pingry's Director of Community Service, and Jarret Schecter, our former mentor, both spoke about the growth in maturity and wisdom they witnessed since we began working with TDP during our freshman year.
Sehyr Khan '18 and Dilan Mushayandebvu '19 both gave fantastic vocal performances, with Sehyr performing "Hometown Glory" by Adele and Dilan performing "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" by Simon and Garfunkel. Dick Young, President and Founder of TDP, was the keynote speaker of the night. After a clip of his documentary "Denan Then and Now" was shown to the audience, he spoke about his experience founding TDP and the impact that local fundraising can have on their projects across the globe. The program concluded with Mr. Young taking questions from the audience.
We will be continuing our relationship with TDP throughout our high school careers and beyond. We also look forward to our trip to Peru this June, during which we will have the opportunity to develop face-to-face connections with the people our work has benefited over the past three years.
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Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org