Photo: The Kamaile Academy 2009 May Day Queen & King exiting the stage.
On Jul 26, 2009, at 2:49 PM, Serge Vartanov
Aloha Ms. Shimabukuro,
I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Serge Vartanov, I've been teaching out at Kamaile Public Charter School (...) for just over a year now. I follow (...) your blog, and would like to ask you for help regarding a trip I'm putting on for my students.
This past year, in addition to teaching 5th grade, I had the opportunity to teach the newly created 7th grade class at Kamaile a course on Japanese Language and Culture.
My 24 students took the language immediately and learned the equivalent of well over a year of high school Japanese despite not yet being in high school.
Despite the challenges of the Wai'anae education system, these kids are showing a true passion for learning and I personally feel that the biggest impact I can make on their lives is to give them first-hand exposure to the language and culture - thus, several months ago I laid the foundation for a two-week educational trip to Japan in the summer of 2010.
Having worked in Wai'anae, I'm sure you're already familiar with the local income levels and have already guessed that all funds have to be raised by myself and [the students].
My students have been superstars running a class store and putting on events, and I've invested almost $2k of my own funds and applied for grants and corporate sponsorship - still, the best way to raise funds is to pursue small independent donations and community support.
Ms. Shimabukuro, I'm asking if there is any way for you to help me get the word out to the rest of the Wai'anae community to help us fund this trip. Anybody who is interested can help my students by making a small donation directly to the school (with a note stating the purpose of the donation), or a more convenient donation online.
I've allied myself with a 501.3c non-profit so donations are absolutely tax-deductible and can be easily made at http://cmef.org/dnjb.html/ in increments of $25 to $1000. Any person who gives will get monthly updates on our preparation for the trip and a reminder to put their donation on their tax forms in January.
Like many Wai'anae kids, most of the kids I teach have never left this island or even been taken to Honolulu (until they met me, I have taken them on plenty of field trips). Travel can be a life-changing experience and getting them off the island would make a tremendous impact on the trajectory of their lives, helping guide them towards finishing school and pursuing higher ed. I wouldn't ask for your support if I didn't urgently need it, and I really look forward to hearing back from you.
Mahalo Nui Loa!
Teach for America ~ Hawai'i
UC Berkeley Class of '08