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Zambia Project Visit Turns Into Longer Commitment for Alums

Imagine living a life in which seeing zebras grazing outside your home is the norm. The zebra’s visit is an everyday occurrence for Kristen Bauer ’09, who, after two trips with the St. Norbert College Zambia Project, accepted a teaching job in Solwezi, Zambia, where she now enjoys such scenic views right from her doorstep.

Bauer is not the only member of her class whose work with the philanthropic student organization inspired her return to the African country. Mandy Smith ’09 also moved to Zambia after her experience as a member of the student org, a group that has been helping under-resourced areas of Lusaka by gathering funds to support teacher salaries, school supplies and building materials.

Until recently, Smith taught alongside Bauer in schools devoted to enabling children to receive a quality education. Smith recently left the country for a new job Venezuela, where she will continue to teach.

Bauer, who remains in Africa, says she joined the Zambia Project as a student at St. Norbert in 2008, and traveled to Zambia twice with student groups working to spread awareness and raise funds for Zambia Open Community Schools. 

Aside from her current teaching responsibilities, she has connected with Same World Same Chance, a community-led organization working in Kibombomene, Zambia, to harness the power of education so that children themselves can become agents for change in their communities.

Remembering her first glimpse of the Southern hemisphere stars in a village she visited with the Zambia Project group, Bauer says, “I’ll always remember the view. [I] identified the Southern Cross out in the village with absolutely zero light pollution.”

“The view” never loses its charm. Bauer says, “Even after living here for almost two years, I find myself awed by the scenery when I take time to appreciate it.” She has been able to travel to different parts of the continent, and has met up with Corday Goddard (Student Affairs) and other student groups from St. Norbert – most recently, those who visited Lusaka this summer. The Zambia Project is already making plans to return in 2017.

The Zambia Project: what you need to know
The Zambia Project is a non-profit organization at St. Norbert College that was co-founded in 2001 by Goddard and Linda Clay, formerly of Career Services.

After a friend of his had spent a year teaching in Zambia, Goddard, the director of housing at the time, offered to have each residence hall raise money for schools in Zambia. A group of residence hall assistants invited Clay to speak about Zambia to their floor in MMM (Mary Minahan McCormick Hall).

The students started gathering weekly, investing in Zambia, backing the Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS), and helping out under-resourced parts of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, by gathering funds for projects that would benefit as many children as possible. The group continues to meet on a weekly basis and sponsors dozens of fundraisers that, taken as a whole, are able to make a significant difference to the children of ZOCS.

Aug. 5, 2014