Salva Visits 2019 Iron Giraffe Challenge Winners
DSBN Academy in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada!
On June 6, WFSS Founder Salva Dut and Executive Director Lynn Malooly made the two-hour drive from Rochester, New York, to St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada, to visit DSBN Academy, the 2019 Iron Giraffe Challenge’s winning school.
It was a truly memorable day spent with an inspiring school community. Because the majority of the students are identified as potentially being the first in their families to attend college and many are also refugees, Salva’s story as a refugee was especially meaningful to the DSBN Academy community. Salva and Lynn started the day by joining the teachers on “handshake duty”—shaking the hand of each student as they entered the school. It was a wonderful start to the day and really underscored the mission and culture of DSBN Academy.
The very talented student jazz group provided music in the gym before the all-school assembly. Seventh-grade music teacher Ms. Yetman-Turner shared that the jazz students were completely self-taught and did not take additional lessons outside of school.
The assembly began with the singing of the Canadian anthem, “O Canada,” followed by the school’s inspirational creed. Ms. Yetman-Turner told the story of the school’s journey to become an Iron Giraffe Challenge winner—two years of fundraising that did not quite meet the goal, followed by a third successful year, and then being chosen as the winner! Hailey, the student who initially proposed that DSBN enter the Iron Giraffe Challenge, then presented Salva with a school T-shirt.
Salva gave an inspiring talk and shared photographs that helped the students to better understand life in South Sudan. He talked about his journey from young village boy, to walking boy or “Lost Boy,” to his arrival in the US as a refugee, and how his quest to reunite with his father and bring water to his father’s village led to the formation of Water for South Sudan.
Lynn then shared some photos and observations from her 2018 visit to South Sudan, with particular focus on school children in South Sudan. It was eye-opening for students to see how children attend schools in South Sudan, the newest country in the world. The day continued with questions and answers from seventh graders, a student-led tour of the school, and lunch with teachers.
A highlight of the day was a roundtable discussion with seventh-grade Model UN students whose 2019 Model UN Project focused on UN Sustainable Development Goal #6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Each student was assigned to research water issues in a specific country, and then network, brainstorm, and suggest possible solutions with other student representatives. The students shared what they had learned and possible solutions they had developed. Salva and Lynn enjoyed learning from the students, and hearing about their research and ideas. Their passion and involvement were both inspiring and impressive.
Of course, a visit from Salva is never complete without photos and selfies—lots and lots of photos and selfies! Salva especially enjoyed meeting some DSBN students from both Sudan and South Sudan, and one excited South Sudanese student brought her mother in at the end of the day to meet Salva. It was a memorable day celebrated with an inspiring school community. Five years of the Iron Giraffe Challenge has brought Salva to winning schools all over the world—from Dubai to Seattle, then upstate New York, Charlotte, NC, and now Ontario, Canada!