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This past school year senior sociology students from Bluffton High School engaged in a face-to-face cross-cultural exchange with youth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through a Global Nomads Group program as part of a Students Rebuild challenge to raise awareness of humanitarian crises around the world.
Global Nomads Group, an international nonprofit, fosters dialogue and understand among the world's youth.
Bluffton students connected to youth from the ETN Vocational Training School in Goma, DRC to allow the international group to jointly create business plans for their social entrepreneurship as they learned more about each other's culture.
The Congolese youth produced hand-made products to be sold in the U.S. by the Bluffton students to raise both funds and awareness. The money was then reinvested back into community projects in the DRC.
Bluffton senior, Logan Skelly, shared more about the interactions with the DRC students, "The students in the Congo seemed very intrigued about the opportunities we have, and that they would love to have those same opportunities some day.
"We attempted to help them reach that goal by selling items they made in their country such as necklaces and bags. Overall I feel it was a great way to see and help the lives of others and to share ours with them."
The conversations that arose between the students helped bring awareness to the humanitarian crises occurring in throughout the DRC.
Through sharing their personal stories the DRC students inspired a change of perspective for the Bluffton students.
Jenna Buroker was one student who felt moved by the experience, "I have seen firsthand how they want to be more than what the world sees them as, they want to make a difference. They have really shown me that you can't give up on what you want to achieve in life, even if you are in the worst of circumstances."
This next year the Students Rebuild, led the Bezos family foundation, will continue to challenge youth to take a stand against the humanitarian crises by making a handmade bone to raise awareness and funds. Each bone created donates $1 to for relief.
This is part of the One Million Bones challenge, which will result in a collaborative art installation that will cover the National Mall in Washington, DC, with one million handmade bones in Spring 2013.
As Bluffton Senior, Matthew Gillett, explained the benefits of the experience and helping others, "It feels good to know that we were able to help kids around the world in need, and can now educate others on problems that occur in lives of young people, and hopefully get them involved too.