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Rotary Club gives $6,000 to students
St. Patrick High School club receives money for volunteer trip to Ecuador

Kirsten Fenn
Northern News Services
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ten St. Patrick High School students are about to embark on an international adventure, thanks to support from the Rotary Club of Yellowknife.

NNSL photo/graphic

Rotary Club of Yellowknife president Kam Hogan, left, St. Patrick High School teacher Catherine Coolen, and students Mitchell Rankin and Jane Taylor were at the Explorer Hotel on Thursday, where Rotary members donated $6,000 to the students for a trip to Ecuador. - Kirsten Fenn/NNSL photo

Rotarians donated $6,000 to the school's Interact Club on Thursday afternoon during a presentation at the Explorer Hotel. The students are set to fly to Ecuador on March 15 for a 10-day volunteer trip.

"We're not sure of the details yet of what we're going to be doing," said Grade 12 student Mitchell Rankin, but he added their work would have an environmental theme.

The students and three supervising teachers will spend their first day in the country's capital city, Quito.

Grade 9 student Jane Taylor said she expects the group will visit a few historic sites before travelling on to Chimborazo, which is 141 kilometres south of Quito, and Yunguilla, which is 42 kilometres northwest of Quito, for volunteer work.

While it will be Rankin's first time on a service trip, Taylor already has a similar experience under her belt.

"I found it really exciting and I enjoy that kind of work," Taylor said of her previous service-type trip.

She's a well-seasoned traveller, having lived in the countries of Gambia and England and visited different places across Canada.

But she's never been anywhere like Ecuador, she said.

Rankin said he's looking forward to learning more about the culture in Ecuador and how people live.

"It'll be nice to go see other communities in the world and see what it's like there," he said.

The Interact Club is an arm of the Rotary Club of Yellowknife that shares its goal of community and international service, said Rotary Club youth services director Muriel Tolley. The Rotary Club of Yellowknife hosts a number of youth learning programs and trips, and helped send the Interact Club to Soweto, South Africa in 2011 to learn about volunteer aid.

"This is the first time that our school is travelling to this area," said Interact's supervising teacher Catherine Coolen.

Having participated in similar service projects during university, Coolen said she wanted to share that type of learning with her own students.

"I think it's important to be able to provide community support, whether it's in our own community or internationally," she said. "After 18 months of hard work, we're really looking forward to all the adventures that will be faced."

Coolen said the students have been raising money through car washes, raffles, grocery bagging and a family carnival to pay the $6,000 cost per participant. Some students have even picked up part-time jobs, she said.

Tolley said travel is a kind of education in itself and that the Rotary Club is dedicated to supporting learning.

"The experiences they have when they go to a country - especially when they see the needs of people in other parts of the world - it really helps them to put our world in perspective and our society and all the gifts that we have here that we may take for granted," she said.

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