From Lemonade to Bicycles

September 12, 2013

by guest blogger Matt Allio, Director of Walden School

Delivering Bikes

I am trying to connect the dots between bicycles in Kenya and lemonade in Pasadena. Let me explain.

Sebouh Bazikian (Walden School Class of 2007) recently raised about $5000 to purchase 43 bikes for the children at Machao Orphanage in rural Kenya. Over the past year, I’ve re-connected with Sebouh, who matriculated to Chandler and is now a senior at St. Francis High School. He started an organization called Bikes for Orphans, and through his tireless work and dedication Sebouh is working to provide bicycles to the children of the orphanage so they can go to school.  The walk is daunting and Sebouh figured the children in the orphanage, located about 115 miles from Nairobi, could cycle in far less time than the hour walk to and from school. Sebouh is clearly succeeding and more information on his work can be found at his website: bikes4orphanages.blogspot.com.

bikes4orphans

Last Saturday, Sebouh’s mom, Frieda, sent me this recent newspaper article about her son’s work. After reading the article, I began to reflect a bit.  Here was Sebouh, a high school senior, truly making a difference.But what I was thinking

about, what I pondered, was how much impact Walden had on Sebouh in his altruistic journey.  At Walden, we talk a lot about education being an instrument for social change.  We feel it’s essential that students use their education to better the world, not just sustain it.  Granted, Sebouh’s parents have inspired him and no doubt Chandler and St. Francis have supported and continue to support him, but how much of the Walden education was embedded in Sebouh and was a part of his journey to get orphaned children on bicycles?

The day after I received the article on Sebouh was the day of Walden’s annual Fall Picnic.  As I walked past the picnic tables, I heard Nina Finton (Class of 2019) ask me to buy a glass of lemonade.  Nina went on to tell me the money will go to charity.  (Take a look at the sign in the photo and you’ll see the sign that says “proceeds $ to charity.”)  In fact, this is the second year that Nina has set up a lemonade stand and last year, she chose to donate her proceeds to The Walden Fund. I suspect, as Nina grows older, she’ll begin to identify a cause, such as Sebouh’s link to the Machao Orphanage, and continue her commitment to social change and to better the world.IMG_7383

As the weekend has turned into the week, I continue to think about Nina and Sebouh.  One the alumni and one the current student, Sebouh and Nina exemplify what we’re after at Walden.  Students having knowledge of the world just isn’t enough.  Our students need to find a context, to find action, for that knowledge.   It may start out as lemonade and evolve into bicycles and it’s essential, as teachers and parents, to help guide our students and children into the context of action. In other words, let’s help them connect the dots.

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