When it comes to having an effect on the world, some set their sights on the neighborhood. Others step out immediately to foreign countries and the unknown. Meet three young adults who have no problem setting the travel bar high. They’ve been there and they are on their way back, to make a big difference.
Fencing For a Cause
“What I hope will be true in 2025 is that I will be able to work to help education in developing countries and improve education for children.”
To describe Daniel Ibeling as a “typical” high school senior would be anything but accurate. In his free time, Daniel competes as a champion fencer with accomplishments at the national and world cup level. He followed in his older brother’s footsteps and started fencing for fun around age 10. Competing in local and national tournaments, Daniel found his passion for the sport. He sees it as unique because it requires both physical and mental strength to succeed. “It’s just you and the other person, and your choices affect how well you do,” he explains.
Daniel also founded his own nonprofit organization, with intentions to help maintain educational opportunities for underprivileged children in developing countries. The goal is to fund young students who show talent but who cannot fully utilize their abilities due to financial hardship. Last summer, Daniel traveled to China’s Inner Mongolia, where he visited two schools. Having raised approximately $5,000, he was able to sponsor four high school students and 10 middle school students. Daniel is of Mongolian descent and feels that this experience allowed him to reconnect with his heritage.
After graduating from Wayzata High School, Daniel aspires to study business and hopes to further develop his education and experience to continue work through his current nonprofit organization, and possibly start another.
What I hope will be true in 2025
"That I will be able to work to help education in developing coutries and improve education for children."
(Left: photo by tate carlson; Right: photo courtesy of Narissa Ibeling)
Racing With a Mission
After finishing college at the University of St. Thomas in the spring, Carly Spindler wanted to do something bigger than just moving into the working world. She had heard about World Race, a program that sends participants across the world to do ministry for 11 months, and decided` “it would be the perfect time.”
During January terms at St. Thomas, Spindler went on annual trips to the Dominican Republic to do mission work. “I had just started experiencing serving,” she says. “After my third year there, I decided I wanted to participate in something long term.”
The yearlong World Race program began in September, and will bring Spindler through 11 countries with 47 other students, split into teams of seven or eight people to work in specialized missions. While Spindler is excited to experience other cultures, the main purpose is to train and prepare for mission work when [participants] return, which is perfect for Spindler, who hopes to use her degree in accounting to work with a nonprofit.
Spindler knows it will be hard to leave home for so long. She is sad to miss her brother going off to college, her parents moving, and her friends going about their lives in the United States, but also knows there is much to look forward to: getting out of her comfort zone, experiencing new countries, and going where she feels called.
“I just hope to have new appreciation for different cultures, and to see how great our God is,” she says. “I know I will personally be so changed with how I live my life, and I hope I can keep that momentum up for the rest of my life.”
left Photo by Emily Richardson; other photos by Hannah Henderson
Photos taken in Uganda during Carly Splinder’s first month in the World Race program.
What I hope will be true in 2025
“That more people are willing to get out of their comfort zones to share God’s love, and to not be afraid of going where you’re called…even here in Maple Grove.”
What I hope to be true in 2025
"That more people are willing to et out of their comfort zones to share God's love, and to not be afraid of going where you're called...even here in Maple Grove."
(Left: photo by Emily Richardson; Right: photo by Hannah Henderson)
Modeling a Cleaner Way
What would you do with your household trash if there was no curbside pickup for a week, a month, two months? What would your family do with its garbage? This is fairly close to the situation Kristi Schammel faced when she first moved to Acolla, a village of 4,000 people, 11,000 ft. in elevation, high in the mountains of Peru.
During an eight-hour bus ride inland from Lima, Acolla, the altitude is so high that it’s hard to get a breath. Typical of many areas of Peru, Acolla is full of farmers, and has a loosely formed village structure. Though there is a regular waste pick-up system, it leaves quite a bit to be desired; the lack of trash cans throughout the village means that castoffs are often pitched on to the ground.
So what is Schammel, a 2008 Maple Grove High School grad and environmental studies major from the College of St. Benedict doing in Peru? As a college senior attending a job fair, one thing became clear, “I did not want to be sitting in an office,” she declares. She joined the Peace Corps with the idea of putting her major to immediate hands-on use. Her first choice was sub-Saharan Africa, where she could learn French. She was sent to the mountainous Peruvian region, an area that had never hosted a Peace Corps volunteer.
Schammel was given mostly free rein to discover what the village most needed in the area of community based environmental management. She spoke with officials and met with residents, asking what they perceived as a need. She initially began teaching English and organized the planting of 2,000 trees for reforestation, but it soon became obvious that the real need was waste management. What wasn’t tossed onto the ground was burned, plastic and all, “creating toxic fumes that caused respiratory problems in kids,” she explains. What was left on the ground or thrown into the river eventually made its way to the area’s small lake, especially during the rainy season.
Schammel set about, through education and modeling, to change the environmental condition of Acolla. Following a lake decontamination project, ongoing garbage collection by residents, a formal study on the lake’s thriving ecosystem which includes flamingos and other birds, and the establishment of organic composting at the school, Schammel made a significant impact.
Returning home this year, after three years in Peru, Schammel plans to enter a graduate program to study environmental policy. “I’ve met really nice, generous people [in Peru]. Everyone feeds me, three meals a day (rice and potatoes),” she says. “And, I’ve gotten my host family to eat more fruits and vegetables.” She’s not only changed the environmental health of a Peruvian city, but she’s left a mark on the internal health of some of its residents.
What I hope will be true in 2025
“ I hope to not forget my experiences. To remember them, take them with me, and use them every day, especially appreciation for the simple things in life, generosity, and perseverance.”
(Kristi Schammel in Peru, with girls dressed traditionally for a local parade)