Dearest readers, I need your help. This spring, I’m taking a group of students to France for a 12 day trip. We’re visiting the Loire Valley, doing a six day family stay in Brittany, and visiting the major sites in Paris. It’s a great trip we’ve planned — my 8th student trip! — and we have 20 kids enrolled.
There are a number of students who want very badly to participate in this trip whose families have been hit pretty hard by the recession. Some have had to decide to skip it this year and hope France is still there when they’re in college, but a handful are going to push through and raise the necessary amount of money they need to pay their fees.
I’m not trying to make miracles with this travel program. AND. Our French department has worked tirelessly to promote this trip and the importance of second (and third!) language learning and travel. Given the interest we’ve gotten in a trip that has a $3K pricetag and the fact that I teach at an inner city school that is not filled with trust fund babies, I’d say the convincing is working. Travel isn’t just for the wealthy, though sometimes it seems that way. We have a few tiny little scholarships to offer our kids, and our student travel organization has two partial scholarships to offer their spring travel programs – of which there are at least 50. Slim pickings. I want each of these students to have the experience of living with a French family and using the language they’re learning in authentic ways. I want them to experience pain au chocolat on site. I want them to know what post-climb at the top of a spiral staircase vertigo really feels like. Because friends, I tell you – there is nothing more heart-giddy-making for me than watching real live discovery on the face of a young person. Kids who travel are kids who get curious, and curious kids make curious adults who endeavor to make the world a better place.
I want my students to get out there and start working to raise funds for this trip in creative new ways. Traditional fundraising campaigns like book sales and wrapping paper and cookie dough have a terrible profit return for the amount of work that they require. Plus, we’ve been restricted from selling anything with sugar in the top 5 ingredients – school candy sales are totally verboten. AND: I believe that there’s no experience more satisfying than one you’ve busted your tail to create for yourself. I want to teach them to take initiative for their desire to do something awesome and life-changing. I want them to learn that developing a solid work ethic helps them achieve goals they haven’t even imagined yet is a great feeling that can be had over and over again. Sure it’s not a fundraising campaign to save dying hemophiliac puppies or to prevent the death of well-dressed yet socially awkward llamas in war torn countries – but they’ve got the right to ask for help.
So I’m getting creative. I’m holding a meeting for all of the students who’re having a hard time coming up with funds for their trip. I intend to educate them in the fine art of guerrilla fundraising. We’ll be discussing how to educate people in their family/parent’s friends/church people circle about the trip, what the trip means to them and their educational future, how much money they need by when, and what kind of work or services they’d be willing to offer. (This is where my comedy friends need to get their minds out of the gutter, because I know some of you just had a bad thought. Shame on you! These are kids!)
My role is part motivational speaker and part idea generator and part rabble rousing community organizer — because with teens, that’s the only way to light a fire under their behinds that’s hot enough to get them moving. I want each student to work their networks (not approaching strangers or being risky, of course, and always discussing their activities with their parents) with a self-created flyer that defines their goals and the work they’re willing and able to do to take this trip to France. So here’s where I need your help. So far on the list of activities they could offer, I’ve got:
- raking leaves
- shoveling snow
- washing windows
But otherwise, I’m kinda stumped. It’s fall, they’re back in school, and they need approximately 2 grand in the next four months. In your experience, what kinds of chores, tasks, or other “I’d rather someone else do this and it’s worth a contribution for the greater good” kinds of work would you hire a kid to do?
The success of any given student’s endeavor is obviously dependent on their ability to hustle and pull the heartstrings of people just like you and me. They’ve gotta let people know what they are working for, give the doe eyes, show up, do what they agreed to do with a smiley face, and say THANK YOU for the opportunity to bust their tails at the end of the job. I don’t think this is impossible – and I’m sure that if they don’t try something, they won’t raise a dime. And it’s never too early to learn a good work ethic, right?
So please – in the comments, if you’ve got a creative idea I can add to the above list, share it by the end of this weekend and I’ll pass it along to my students. Thank you so very much.