by DOUG NADVORNICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & ometimes good deeds bring unexpected rewards. So it was for five of the 27 members of University High School's Genocide Project Team and their advisor, teacher Paul Schneider, who last winter sold more than 2,000 blue and white "Stop Genocide in Sudan" T-shirts to friends, family members and community leaders. On Feb. 21, after team members handed a $27,000 check to a representative from the relief agency CARE, they figured their humanitarian project was over.
Yet not long after, Schneider took a phone call from a CARE representative. "He invited me to the Global Campaign for Education Week in Washington, D.C., and said I could bring one student, but only one," Schneider says. "So I brought the kids together and told them. When word got out a parent of one of them said, 'If you can get four more spots, I'll lead the fundraising to send four more.'"
CARE agreed to accommodate the extra students and the U-Hi community raised about $7,500 in less than three weeks. In the last week of April, Schneider and the students hopped a plane for the nation's capital. They met with several of the state's congressional representatives and their aides and with other students and leaders of relief agencies.
"It was a phenomenal experience," says senior Stephanie Smith. "The political atmosphere was so overwhelming. We'd kind of prepared little speeches when we met with the political people, but we threw them out the window when we got there. We really enjoyed ourselves and relaxed."
"I know our generation is always labeled as a group of slackers and apathetics, but that trip affirmed to me that we're not," says senior Dale Knudsen. "I learned about the political process and about lobbying and I decided that's what I'd like to do for a living, lobbying for a nonprofit group."
Others came away with the same goal. "It's as simple and as complex as this: I want to change the world. I want to do more Darfur types of projects and I want to major in international relations," says Smith, who will attend the University of San Diego next fall.
"This project reinforced what I know about these kids," says Schneider. "They're passionate, creative people who care about others as much as they care about themselves."