Seniors’ Capstone project to benefit orphanage in Africa

alisongilbert ’11

With graduation in the near future, many seniors find themselves frantically finishing their Capstone project. But for 10 students, Capstone has taken on a whole new meaning—one of not only local, but also global responsibility.Picture-2

Seniors Margaret Wunderlich, Joe Biederman and Julia Schechter are three of 10 students who have been working since November to create the Rafiki Arts Festival. Wunderlich is the founder and chair of the entire project, while Biederman and Schechter have both been working with the public relations and promotional aspects of the festival.

The first annual Rafiki Arts Festival will be held April 10 in the lobby, cafeteria and courtyard of UAHS from 1-4 p.m. It will be comprised of 40-60 vendors selling crafts, jewelry and artwork; there will also be additional vendors selling a mix of local and cultural cuisine, according to Wunderlich.

The student organizers said they are encouraging everyone within the high school and community to participate in any way they can.

“We hope to involve every member of the community, whether it be through donating something to sell or simply…participating in the festivities,” Wunderlich said.

One hundred percent of the festival proceeds will go directly to the Rafiki Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Many of the children suffer from AIDS and other debilitating diseases and are given a safe, clean place to grow up at the orphanage.

Picture-4“It’s really an investment,” Wunderlich said. “By feeding the children, we are also feeding the community, country and culture.”

Aside from having the opportunity to provide for an orphanage, the students have gained valuable experience in the fields of leadership, advertising and time-management skills.

“We have to visit sponsors, deliver applications and eventually carry out the final product,” Wunderlich said. “It’s hard because we are high school students doing the same jobs as adult professionals.”

Schechter and Biederman have encountered a few challenges while planning the festival. Schechter said that despite minor problems, she has been able to vastly improve her professionalism and people skills. Biederman has also found himself in situations that challenged him in new ways.

“[Even though] it’s really hard to start something that has never been done before, we have all learned a lot about ourselves and how to work in a professional setting,” Schechter said.

Wunderlich, who considers herself a relatively practiced leader, said she struggled to delegate tasks to her peers.

Picture-2“I have learned a lot about responsibility because when people don’t do their work, you have to pick up the slack,” Wunderlich said.

The overarching goals of the group are to make the festival annual and to have members of the community recognize local and global problems and to remember their responsibility to help. Wunderlich, Schechter and Biederman said they hope to eventually involve the entire senior class in the planning and creation of the festival.

“We want it to be like the [UAHS] Talent Show,” Wunderlich said. “Each year the senior class could choose a charity to support and come together to participate in this event.”

The trio also said they wanted people to understand the problems plaguing society and give students an opportunity to help.

“It’s not really about the art,” Schechter said. “It’s about whom the art is benefiting.”