Chandler teens take expeditions overseas SanTan Sun News

Chandler teens take expeditions overseas

Chandler teens take expeditions overseas
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Isabelle Kelsey really wanted to get out of her comfort zone this past summer.

She was about to enter her senior year at Chandler Preparatory Academy and wanted to gain some real-world experience.

She sought out an adventure that would be exciting, educational, and philanthropic. Kelsey found what she was looking for in an 18-day expedition to Thailand.

Despite never traveling that far from home before, she booked a flight to Bangkok.

“I was terrified at first,” Kelsey recalled. “I’d never been out of the country by myself before.”

When she landed, Kelsey met up with a group of other volunteers and traveled around various animal sanctuaries. Their mission was to help preserve habitats for the country’s elephant population.

They planted trees, collected water resources and tried to keep elephants from wandering onto farmland.

“A lot of the trip was focused around creating a peaceful coexistence between humans and elephants,” Kelsey said.

The trip was organized by Walking Tree Travel, a group that partners with the Smithsonian Institution to develop educational immersion programs.

Kelsey said she learned much about the harm deforestation has on Thailand’s wildlife. She discovered dozens of forestland are being destroyed each day, which severely erodes the elephant’s domain.

Preserving nature is a communal effort, she noted, that requires everybodys involvement to protect these animals.

“I just learned about the importance of community and the role it plays in conservation,” she said.

Kelsey was not the only Chandler Preparatory student to travel the world this past summer.

Marin Scoggin, another senior, spent about two weeks educating young children in South Africa.

She traveled with a group from Save Volunteering, a nonprofit organization based out of Cape Town, to help teach a class of toddlers in the township of Dunoon.

The school was run by a woman in her house, where she welcomed up to 60 kids.

Scoggin said the work could be overwhelming because the students had so much energy and yearned for attention.

“They don’t really have toys so you’re kind of their only form of entertainment,” Scoggin said. “It definitely was very draining at times.”

It was an eye-opening experience, she added, seeing how the local families lived and how few opportunities existed to improve their economic situation.

Scoggin said she was most surprised by the fact that young people in the township likely won’t achieve any post-secondary education.

“I would see that and it would make me upset,” Scoggin said.

Yet the children she was around were just happy and playful — they didn’t think of themselves as disadvantaged or their living environment as abnormal.

It wasn’t all work and no play for Scoggin. During her down time, she got to go on safaris, take surfing lessons and tour around Cape Town.

Both Scoggin and Kelsey expressed interest in embarking on similar trips in the future. They intend on enrolling in college upon graduation; Scoggin’s considering a career in medicine and Kelsey wants pursue a career involving nature and environmentalism.

“I want to keep working and keep trying to make more of an impact,” Kelsey said.

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