The following article was published in the local newspaper in Vermont.
“SPRINGFIELD — They might come from a small town, but these students are thinking globally.
The students in Jennifer Dodge’s Springfield High School sophomore honors English class will host the ZimbabWE are Benefit Concert and Fair from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Riverside Middle School. The event is an outgrowth of Dodge’s efforts to make her students aware of what is going on outside Vermont.
In 2009, Dodge assigned her class Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” a memoir of Wiesel’s time in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
“Last year, I gave an assignment to the class, saying, ‘OK, so what? What are you going to do now?’” Dodge said.
The class responded with the Dash for Darfur, a running event on the Springfield bike path that raised $700 for Kids for Kids, which helps residents of the Darfur region in Sudan with irrigation and the purchase of livestock.
Saturday’s fundraising event was organized entirely by Dodge’s class.
“It’s important for them to take the reins on their education sometimes,” Dodge said. “It’s good for them to understand that what they’re learning in school is important and to make them aware of what’s going on in the world.”
Andrew Lee Bladyka, a student in Dodge’s class, said his class did extensive research before deciding to hold a benefit for Zimbabwe, where 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day and 94 percent of the citizens are unemployed.
“People think they have it hard here in the United States, but people in Zimbabwe have had it hard for years,” said Bladyka.
Saturday’s event will raise money for the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation, which since 2004 has improved the lives of more than 37,000 Zimbabweans through agriculture and employment initiatives.
Saturday’s event is a collaboration with Springfield music venue 802 Music, and will feature a slate of local and regional musical acts who will play the bandstand. There will also be a number of family-friendly activities, such as a ring toss, face painting and bobbing for apples. In the event of rain, the event will move to the middle school gymnasium.
Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. For more information about the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation, visit zbf.org.uk.”