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West Hills students praised for aiding Tanzania school

The following excerpt comes from the The Detroit News in Detroit, Michigan and was originally published on June 22, 2012.

“Secondary school students in a remote East African village soon will have textbooks for the first time, thanks to eighth-graders at an Oakland County school.
The language arts students at West Hills Middle School in the Bloomfield Hills Schools raised nearly $5,000 from community members to buy the books for the youngsters in the United Republic of Tanzania.

‘I have so much already, and I feel it is my duty to give back to people in the world who are less fortunate than us,’ said Valody Oray, 13. ‘It makes me feel I helped someone, no matter how small.’

Mark Honeyman, the eighth-grade language arts teacher at West Hills, helped sponsor the fundraiser. He was moved to tears when praising his students. ‘This is a stunning accomplishment, because you are not only changing the lives of those students, but of their parents and the entire community, because they now will have a fully stocked library of books written in their own language,’ he told 25 students. ‘Thousands of lives will be altered for decades to come because of what you did, and I am so proud of you.’

The students were informed about the situation in Tanzania's educational system by a former student of Honeyman, Lauren Fink, who visited the school during a break from her stint as a Peace Corps volunteer there.

‘She told the class how the students had to quickly scribble notes while a teacher read to them from one textbook — the only book in the classroom — in English, at that,’" said Honeyman. ‘It wasn't even in their own language. Can you imagine trying to copy down notes in their language?’”

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