Goal of Brandywine economic students is more than $50,000

Published 10:07 am Monday, May 8, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - They are not your typical fundraisers.
Ron Bishop's international economics class wanted to avoid the same old bake sales and dinners for a couple reasons. First, they want to get the community involved and give them a chance to have a good time. Second, the events to raise the funds need to be a little bit bigger because the 20 students and seven chaperones making a trip to Ecuador in the winter need to raise $50,960.
The bill for the previous trip to Costa Rica in 2004 was $28,800, Bishop said.
To earn the cash, Bishop's group is planning a few fun-filled events for the spring and summer, starting with a community yard sale and antique appraisal show on June 16 and 17.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, everyone is invited to Brandywine High School for a giant yard sale, and, an opportunity to have antiques appraised by local expert Karla Cramer. Those wishing to have large items priced are asked to bring a photo. Bishop added a small fee will be charged for appraisals.
Just more than a month later, the students will host a Battle of the Bands, again at the high school. Bishop said he anticipates selling T-shirts and concessions and possibly even having a live broadcast from 103.0 FM, The Bear, from Elkhart County, Ind.
Still in the planning stages, but scheduled for the end of August, is the group's country-western street dance and barbecue. Bishop also said the class has secured a concession booth in the stadium for Notre Dame football games this fall and will sell food and drinks at the annual Applefest.
Every other year, Bishop teaches the international economics class at Brandywine High School. The whole course centers around educating the students on the country they will visit at the end of the semester.
He also said Brandywine is the only school in the state - and maybe the country - to focus an entire class around an international trip.
Bishop, who is a former missionary to Haiti, said he chooses to travel to under developed nations so his students can get an idea of how economic forces work in an area totally different than the U.S.
During their 12-day venture to South America, Bishop's group will spend time in the capitol city Quito and also on the Galapagos Islands. They will tour an auto manufacturing plant, a beverage plant and a farm exporting flowers and trees to the U.S. The class will also work in a soup kitchen, visit the equator and make a trip to the Amazon rainforest.
Each evening will include discussions about the days lessons and what the students have recorded in their daily journals. Some of the topics, Bishop said, include the impact tourism has on Ecuador's environment and what would happen to the country's economy if the industry slowed down. Plus, the class will examine Ecuador's social security program and import and export taxes.
The final leg of the trip is where the group “stops the school work” and heads for a tubing trip down a river in the rainforest.
All the students are also informed of the image they leave while in a foreign country.
Having the students work in a group for more than a year leading up to the trip is important. Bishop said the group has to learn to work together in pressure situations to prepare for the close quarters and stressful situations that are sure to arise in Ecuador.
Mostly because it is not a typical trip.