Tristen Belnap

2015 Senior Project

"Understanding nonprofit organizations and building a school in Kenya"

About me and why i chose this project...

My name is Tristen Belnap, I’ve lived in Evanston all my life and am a senior in high school. I will be attending Utah Valley University this coming fall to major in Dental Hygiene. As I have grown older I have become very fond of music. I started playing the piano when I turned eight years old and grew to love it. I love the emotion and stories I am able to feel while I play. As I was introduced to more opportunities to learn more instruments I learned how to play the flute, violin, and tenor saxophone.

Along with music, travel has become an essential part of my life. I first began to love traveling when I went to the Philippines. I fell in love with the people, how they are so loving even though they have so much less than I do. I fell in love with the country, the beauty that was like no other place on Earth. And I fell in love with the memories I made there. I started traveling more and more and eventually made my way to Kenya, Africa with Mrs. Bella on a Build African Schools trip.

While I was there I met so many inspirational students that sacrifice so much to get their education. As we went from school to school learning about the difficulties they go through to provide an educational environment, we came across a primary school that consisted of walls made of sticks and a grass roof. Inside there was a dirt floor and several huge wasp nests that the kids had learned not to irritate. I felt my heart ache for those kids that are struggling to get through the very first couple of years of their education.

When I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about them and because I felt so passionate about my trip to Kenya and the mission that Build African Schools has I decided to use that as my senior project. I have learned so much about non-profit organizations. How to start one, what makes one successful, what doesn’t work, and what kind of effort has to go into fundraising.

I undertook this project not because I want to become a professional fundraiser, but because I want to help the children I met in the primary school. And even if I am not able to make enough money to help those children I will be able to help in some way. The people in Kenya were kind, happy, and generous to us as I was visiting. The least I could do was try to help them in any way I could.