A record 119 TASIS students, faculty, staff, and community members completed the fifth annual Walk for Water on the afternoon of May 3, raising more than CHF 1100 for clean water initiatives carried out by Gram Vikas, a TASIS Global Service Program partner that has been working with the rural people of Odisha, India, for more than 36 years with the aim of building an equitable and sustainable society where people live in peace with dignity.
|“I am grateful that the TASIS community has turned this experiential activity into a tradition that truly benefits our global service partners while also helping us reflect more conscientiously about our use of resources and privilege.”
|– Zach Mulert|
The Walk for Water, which consists of carrying a 10–20 kilogram bucket of water around a one-kilometer course in order to simulate what many people in the developing world must go through daily to secure clean water, was once again hosted by the student-directed Service Learning Board. Inspired by Sarah Wyler ’13, the event has now rallied more than 500 participants and raised more than CHF 5600 for clean water initiatives in Nepal, Kenya, and India—countries where the Global Service Program continues to send students.
“While the 15 minutes it may take our students does not compare to the six hours often spent by those in the developing world, we hope this walk serves as an experiential lesson about what life is like for many,” said Global Service Program Director Zach Mulert, who has directed the pioneering program since its inception in 2013. “It’s constructive to have this experience while also raising funds to combat the very problem we are learning about.”
See a full gallery of photos from the 2017 Walk for Water here.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know the importance of having to carry water from one place to another because for us it’s so convenient,” said Zainab Qureshi ’17, who supervised this year’s event along with fellow Service Learning Board members Angelina Not ’18 and Asia Roveda ’18. “This event raises awareness and makes people realize that many people have to make a big effort to get something they need. It’s hard for many to get even the basic necessities of life.”
“The thought stays as well because you’re always sore after carrying the bucket,” added Not.
All water used in the event was recycled into the School's underground holding tank and will be used for gardening. Students in grade nine had the highest level of participation (61 walkers!) and earned the right to dump ice cold water on four teachers—Mr. Mulert, Dr. Chris Love, Mr. Thomas Joyce (Gram Vikas trip leader), and Ms. Marla Beimer—who handled the deluge with aplomb on what was a rather chilly evening in Montagnola.
Mr. Mulert was pleased with the record-setting turnout, which further cements the Walk for Water as an annual TASIS tradition.
“This year's event was another wonderful success,” he said. “It was so pleasing to see the ninth-grade class participate so forcefully, and it was also endearing to even see newborns and toddlers helping their parents participate. I am grateful that the TASIS community has turned this experiential activity into a tradition that truly benefits our global service partners while also helping us reflect more conscientiously about our use of resources and privilege.”
“It was good,” added Nathaniel Mulert, who at three years old was one of the youngest members of the TASIS community to complete the course. “The bucket was heavy, but it wasn’t too hard because Mommy helped me. Some people have to walk all the way to the river to get their water.”
Opsahl Global Service Program
The Opsahl Global Service Program was envisioned by Jan Opsahl ’68, who became the first international student at TASIS when he came from Norway in 1965. The pioneering program was launched in 2013 with major support from a most generous donation from Mr. Opsahl and his family to set up the Global Service Trust. This Trust, along with support from the TASIS Foundation, make this incredible, life-changing experience for our students possible.
The Opsahl Global Service Program transforms lives by providing every High School student a unique opportunity to connect across borders through comprehensive experiences that build empathy and encourage personal responsibility. Participation in the program—which is designed to awaken students to humanitarian needs, inspire them to build enduring, mutually beneficial relationships, and lead them toward a life of active citizenship and committed service—is a graduation requirement.