A group of 16 high school students and 5 teachers recently visited Akros as part of their learning expedition. The students, aged between 15 and 17, are part of the Traveling School, based in the U.S. The group of 16 young women spent a day between the Akros offices and the National Malaria Control Centre to gain a better understanding of Akros’ involvement in building healthy communities. The visit was also meant to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and practice.
Various members of the Akros staff told the story of Akros’ history, areas of focus and mission. The young women learned about Akros’ on going work supporting disease surveillance, and received some information on international career track approaches. The enthusiastic students were then given a presentation on malaria and its lifecycle. After the presentations at Akros offices, the girls were taken on a tour to the National Malaria Control Centre where they got a chance to see how the lab plays a significant role in the fight against malaria. They were taken through the process of how the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used in the detection of low-density malaria infections that the rapid diagnosis test (RDT) and microscopy can sometimes miss. Students also got the opportunity to learn how an RDT works.
“Akros is committed to building healthy communities in the developing world,” said Akros CEO Anna Winters. “One way we can do this is to engage young leaders as they choose their career paths by sharing with them the types of challenges and solutions we encounter everyday. We are privileged to share what we have been learning along the way with the Traveling School students and hope this information ignites similar interests amongst this very engaging group of young women leaders.”
“My trip to Akros has given me knowledge on the complexity of malaria,” said Claudia, a 15 year old Traveling School student from the Republic of Panama. “I also got a chance to put a face to people who are working tirelessly in the fight against malaria.”
The Traveling School started in the year 2000 with an original concept generated by a group of high school students and their teacher. The students are selected through a rigorous application process which involves essay writing and interviews in search of highly motivated and hardworking young women who are willing to discover more about other cultures and are willing to take a journey of self-discovery.
“We look for highly motivated and hardworking girls and offer them first-hand experience of what they learn in class,” said Katelin, a Traveling School teacher. “This is in order to diversify their opinions as the girls come from different backgrounds.”
The students spend a high school semester outside of the classroom and explore southern Africa or Latin America depending on the semester. They travel through several countries over 15 weeks, immersed in diverse cultures and inspiring landscapes. The mission of the school is to enrich the lives of teenage girls with an enduring educational experience focusing on overseas exploration, academic challenges, expanded outdoor skills, and a deeper comprehension of the world. The Traveling School brings together girls from all over the United States and the world over to learn, interact and become global citizens who strive to be agents of change.
The girls’ learning expedition of southern Africa this semester started with a 3 week journey to Malawi where they visited places such as Mt Mulanje and Lake Malawi. Their stop at Akros was during a 2 week journey through Zambia where they visited Luangwa National Park and University of Zambia.
“What an excellent experience for our group!” said Beth, a Traveling School coordinator. “Your crew presented Akros in a clear and relevant way. The students left the morning with a better understanding of your programs, goals, and strategies. It was especially inspiring for us to see such strong women working together in your organization!”
Akros is committed to enriching the lives of young people such as the Traveling School students by offering them practical knowledge and first-hand experience around its focus areas. It is hopeful that the knowledge the girls received will go a long way in motivating them to become change agents in their communities and the world over as well as shaping their career paths.
– Precious Matantilo is an Advocacy and Communications Officer for Akros and is a Global Health Corps fellow for 2014/2015.