CLEMSON — A Clemson University Creative Inquiry student team will travel to Belize March 17-24 to interact with a school’s students and educators while filming a documentary to raise awareness about the need for educational opportunity in impoverished areas of foreign countries.
The visit to Unity Christian School and film are part of the development of “$60 Scholarships,” the students’ effort to award scholarships to children in the Burial Grounds community of Belize whose families aren’t able to pay for their educations.
“The education system there is privatized, meaning that the government only pays half of the tuition,” said Sara Grace Bailey, a $60 Scholarships team member from Lancaster. “The families are responsible for the remaining $75 and we are raising money to pay $60 of that. This way, we are helping but still holding the family responsible so that they come to appreciate their work toward education.”
“Sixty dollars gives students uniforms and school supplies, as well as tuition for an entire year,” said Anne Coker, a team member from Hendersonville, N.C.
“The scholarship covers school lunches as well,” said Brooke Baker of Greer. “Having the necessary books and supplies for class — not to mention lunch — allows the children to focus on learning and improving instead of looking for resources and suppressing hunger. The scholarship is their chance to engage, and we hope to keep students engaged for many years to come.”
Since launching $60 Scholarships in fall 2012, the group has raised enough money to send 30 children to school for a year. They collected donations during Clemson’s textbook buyback program and from the Clemson community and beyond.
The trip to Belize will allow the group to formally present the scholarship funds and gather footage and interviews for a documentary about the educational needs of the children in the Burial Grounds area.
“This trip to Belize puts theory into action in a way that I’m sure will change our lives,” said Sean Williams, professor and chairman of Clemson’s English department. “It’s one thing to talk about making the world a better place, but entirely another to actually put those words into action.
“The experience the students will have creating this documentary will place them directly at the edge of understanding just how powerful effective communication can be to create real change in the world,” he said. “It makes everything we’ve talked about in our classes real not just for us, but also for a wider population of people we hope to be our future supporters.”
The documentary project has been posted to Sponsorcraft.com, a crowdfunding site where you can make a donation toward covering the $1,608 cost of hotel rooms for the trip. Donations in any amount are accepted and can be made with cash, check or via PayPal through the $60 Scholarships website. Checks must be made payable to “Sixty Dollar Scholarships.”