If you had the option of seeing the world by taking a trip or improving the world by staying at home and concentrating your energies there, what would it be? For the young kindred spirits of a united community in Maine, the answer was obvious.
The island of Islesboro is located three miles from the mainland. Its population amounts to about 700 full-time residents. While it consisted of just a dozen bakery students, the class that graduated from high school this year – eight from the island and five who arrived by ferry from the mainland – was larger than usual.
Traditionally, Islesboro Central School seniors hold fundraisers to fund a once-in-a-lifetime class trip at the end of their senior semester. Destinations for former students include Paris, Iceland, Norway, and Panama.
The Class of 2021 had already raised close to $ 8,000 in donations when their hopes of a trip to Greece, Japan or South Korea were dashed by COVID-19 travel restrictions. With their plans restricted, the group decided to spend the money they had earned much closer to home by reinvesting it in their community.
As Liefe Temple explained, an 18-year-old student, according to the group’s consensus, would have felt strange to allow themselves the luxury of traveling abroad when they knew that their neighbors were suffering such extreme duress on a day-to-day basis.
“We could really see how the whole world and the island were fighting too,” he told the Associated Press, “So it felt really good to do that with our money: give it back to the people who gave it to us.”
Most of the student’s proceeds were donated to the Island Community Fund to help residents whose livelihoods were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another part was used to finance vaccination clinics against the coronavirus. (The remainder will go to philanthropic causes yet to be determined.)
“There [is] a strong sense of pride in these students. That’s because his decision demonstrated an awareness of the difficulties in his community and a willingness to do something about it, “Community Fund President Fred Thomas told the AP.
The geography of the post-COVID-19 landscape has changed. Not literally, of course, but figuratively. We all live in a very different place than we lived before the start of the pandemic.
How we choose to move forward in this strange new world will define the days ahead, but if the disinterested worldview of Isleboro’s 2021 senior class is any indication, the future seems to be in very good hands.
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