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Ontario Students to Bring Global Lessons to Local Level

World Vision

Ontario Christian High School recently became the first in the Inland Empire to start a partnership with the global humanitarian organization World Vision that involves a pen pal exchange with students in Kenya.

In a first exchange of letters, 15-year-old sophomore Courtenay Evans received a photo and a note from an 11-year-old girl. This girl from Kalapa, Kenya, will be her digital pen pal for the next year.

“So she said that she wanted to be a doctor, that her favorite color was green, then she drew a picture of her house,” said Evans.

The letter writing is part of a program started three years ago by World Vision, whose mission to address global poverty for the past 70 years is grounded in a Christian tradition.

Ben Dykhouse, Ontario Christian’s principal, said getting to build a personal connection to a person from an impoverished community abroad is just the starting point. There is also a curriculum for their Social Studies, English, and Leadership classes that will dig into systemic economic and social issues around poverty.

“It takes time to unpack each of those, so our students will be involved in reading about people in other parts of the world, reading from well-researched scholars on what some of the best solutions have been, and they’ll also be creating their own solutions,” said Dykhouse.

He said students will take what they have learned and apply it to problems within their own community. Courtenay Evans already has an idea for her project.

“I would like to improve a lot of racism in my community because I am a young African American woman and there’s a lot going on now,” said Evans.

She said she would start with a conversation with her peers about what Black Lives Matters means and expand from there.

“We can all come together and just talk about the Hispanic community, the Black community, the Asian community, and we can all be united as one," said Evans. "And it’s not going to start with me to be the change. It has to start with other people. Other people have to come together and realize that all races are equal and that we are all the same.”

She also kindly asked older folks remember that her generation, Gen Z, is wise with their own thoughts and ideas, too.