With the help of some bricks and hard work.

Eight thousand miles from the University Dayton, Wasambo High School is rising from foundations in the green hillside overlooking Lake Malawi.

It will serve as an experiential learning hub for University students while also helping meet the needs of the people of Sangilo Village, Karonga District, Malawi. In the eastern African nation, the median age is 16 1/2 years old and only 18 percent of primary school graduates continue on to high school.

The school was built out of needs articulated by local people in their conversations with UD students involved with the University's Malawi Practicum on Research and Development.

"Their research gives credibility to our mission and influences the direction we take our programming."

"It's amazing when we have our UD students here, as they can dig into an issue and, with their Malawian counterparts, help us understand where we should focus our efforts," said Matt Maroon '06, founder of the Malawi-based nongovernmental organization Determined to Develop. "Their research gives credibility to our mission and influences the direction we take our programming."

University research and development to improve the human condition in Malawi has been a team effort since 2010. In the last year, students from the School of Engineering ETHOS program have surveyed land for the school site and helped with plans and construction. Faculty and students from UD's teacher education program are developing training and curriculum materials. And students and alumni have contributed funds to support the building of Wasambo school to benefit students both in Malawi and Dayton. 

As an experiential learning hub, the school will showcase the University's transdisciplinary, liberal-arts education guided by the Marianist spirit of partner-based community building.

"It's a reflection of the commitment and passion of the community in Malawi, of Matt and of the different programs at UD,” said Jason Pierce, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "It's really quite exciting. It's terrific experiential learning for our students, and it resonates deeply with the mission of the Marianists."

Construction began in September 2016. The boys' school and dormitory and houses for teachers, staff and volunteers will be complete when school begins Sept. 1, 2017. A second phase will include a girls’ school and dormitory. When the boarding school reaches full capacity, it will educate more than 300 students annually.

James Mayni, 14, is excited that his dream of continuing his education is so close to reality: "I will keep hoping that my next chapter of my life at Wasambo High School awaits."

Wasambo School - Artist Rendering