The Harker School’s annual Global Empowerment and Outreach (GEO) Week, put on by the GEO Club, ended in late October. Thanks to candygram, wrist bands and sports bags sales, as well as pledges taken for vows of silence, the club will be donating just under $6,000 to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI). GAVI distributes vaccines to impoverished nations, helping to save the lives of children and break the poverty cycle.
GEO had so many candygram orders that “we had to make almost 200 more, I think,” said Cherry Xie, grade 12, the club’s public relations officer.
Xie also says a great number of people participated in the vow of silence, which was her personal favorite part of the week. “People got very competitive about the amount of money they could raise and it basically turned into a huge competition between me and two other people to see who could raise the most.” Pledges were given to those participating in the 24-hour vow of silence, and the three competitive students, “each ended up getting pledges from 60 or more people,” said Xie.
But the vows of silence didn’t stop with the students. Teachers also took the pledge challenge, including Bradley Stoll, a mathematics teacher on the upper school campus who teaches Xie’s calculus class.
Xie called thought it was “very bold” of him to do. “I really admire how he was willing to root for the cause even though it made teaching for him very difficult,” she says.
To illustrate just how quickly disease spreads, the club also put on a game where they had to “infect” each other with stickers, and see how many people had become “infected” by the end of the day.
The end of the event provided a natural time for reflection, as well as a time to consider what other ways there are to help. “I hope everyone realizes that there are many ways to help people in Third World countries, and that many aspects of their lives they don’t usually take time to appreciate are in fact life-or-death matters for others, specifically vaccinations and immunizations,” said Xie. “I also hope that people who did take the vow of silence reflect on how much of a difference they made by themselves, just by giving up something as simple as speech for a while, and that if we all support each other in fighting for a cause, we can achieve a lot.”