Hi, my Name is John Christopher. I am 25 years old and currently living and working in Washington, DC. In September I will be giving up my job and flying half way around the world to Surket, Nepal, to begin a 6 month fellowship with the Kopila Valley Children’s Home and School. I’d like to take a moment of your time to tell you how I got here and why I made the decision to leave my comfortable life behind and move to the third world, while telling you how you can help!
I first learned about Kopila Valley through some of my best friends who went to high school with Maggie Doyne, the founder of Kopila Valley Children’s Home and School. After hearing Maggie’s story at a Fourth of July celebration 5 years ago, I was immediately amazed and impressed that someone my age could be making such an impact in the world. It was that day when I became an ardent supporter of her cause and a regular reader of her blog: http://blinknow.org/. After years of following her posts, and “wishing” I could make a difference, the opportunity of a lifetime came knocking, when Maggie created the Kopila Valley Fellows program. Immediately after reading about the fellowship, I knew that it was time to scratch the itch I’ve had for so many years and take a leap. One particular position stood out; the “extra-curricular fellow.” After reading the job description, and hearing how greatly in need Kopila Valley was to have someone spearhead these initiatives I was sold. This opportunity would give me the ability to help bring to others what I’ve taken for granted for so long.
Prior to my time in DC I attended college at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and high school at Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During those 8 years, athletics and club activities were very important to me and I sought to be involved as much as possible. I’ve had the opportunity to wrestle at the collegiate level, play football in high school, serve in student government, play the saxophone, and serve as a mentor, along with countless other extracurricular activities. These pursuits helped me develop as a person and become more than just a one-dimensional adult. I learned the importance of communication, team work, dedication, time management, and self-discipline, which have translated seamlessly to the work world. I attribute much of my current achievements to the lessons I learned both in and outside of the classroom.
I love my life in DC. I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends and a fantastic job. In no way am I unhappy here, rather I saw this fellowship as an unbelievable opportunity to potentially make a difference in the lives of people who may not have been as privileged as me. As the first person to receive this fellowship I am not quite sure what exactly to expect. My goal however, is to help Maggie and the rest of the Kopila Valley Staff further the development of these children outside of the classroom. From what I’ve learned, many of these children don’t have an outlet besides school and home. Whether they are walking miles to and from school, or coming directly from the orphanage, I hope the outlet that they might gain from involvement in extracurricular activities can help provide a connection with their peers and place where they will feel support.
The goal of this fundraiser is to raise funds to help build the Extracurricular Program at Kopila Valley and ensure its sustainability so that others may follow as leaders of the program, long after I have left. As the first fellow, there is very little infrastructure in place for what I will be doing. I am hoping to use the proceeds to implement a program that will be successful for many years to come. The money raised will go directly to funding these initiatives and I will work closely with Maggie to make sure the money is being spent in a prudent and impactful fashion. Although, there is still a great deal of time and energy that needs to be spent thinking about and developing this program, I hope by the end of my term that the foundation will be set to thrive for many, many years. My ultimate goal is to begin creating an Extra-Curricular Program that will provide the same outlet and positive escape so many of us, including myself, were blessed with growing up.
Additionally, you will be able to see directly how your money is going to use on my blog: http://notjustatree.blogspot.com. My expectation is to post pictures of our progress, and describe the steps being made to develop a successful program. Whether purchasing new soccer balls to further the athletic program, or buying recorders to foster the music program, I will keep donors and followers abreast of our headway. Further, you will have the ability to communicate with me via the comment box on my blog entries, and suggestions will be gladly considered. This is YOUR money, so any creative or thoughtful ideals will be met with open arms.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story! I am both anxious and excited to get this adventure underway, and appreciate all of your support.
The following two paragraphs come directly from http://blinknow.org/kopila-fellows/ and should provide some insight into the organization and the program.
About The Fellows Program
The Kopila Fellows program is designed to bring remarkable people from around the world to be part of our community in Surkhet, Nepal. We seek positive, fun, extraordinary thinkers and doers who will help inspire and nurture the children, staff, and faculty of our ever-growing home and school.
About The Extra Curricular Fellowship
The Extra Curricular Fellow is focused on the education of the whole child. You are fun, energetic, and enthusiastic with knowledge of basic athletics, especially soccer. You are focused on the importance of teamwork, integrity and moral development. You have experience in coaching, team-building, and leadership. Experience or ability in art, drama, and music is a plus. You work with students on computer skill-building, regular classroom instruction support and small group tutoring support. You oversee our monthly school-wide theme, work with the vice-principal and principal to plan and implement weekly/monthly student programs and work with our Houses (four unique student groups with their own leader and identity) developing team-building exercises and supporting student social/emotional growth. You are a clear communicator and work well as part of a team at the Home and School. You may be called upon to help run things in the home and or school mornings, weekends, and late at night, and you are okay with that. You love what you do.