Leaving the nest a bit sooner than the rest

Leaving the nest a bit sooner than the rest

While the typical student is spending her senior year planning for college, senior Mariah Gascho is planning her journey to the other side of the world. As the rest of her graduating class gets sick with senioritis, she will aid the relief mission on Greece’s largest refugee camp.

Gascho has the opportunity to intern with the EuroRelief Organization in Greece for three months. EuroRelief is a Greek non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) currently working on the Greek island of Lesvos (also spelled Lesbos)  providing assistance to the many refugees that are arriving on Greece’s shores. This won’t be the first time Gascho has served as a missionary; she found her passion for this place on a previous trip with her father.

“In 2015, I went [to Lesvos] with my dad to work on the beaches. After being there I really wanted to be back, especially since it’s become a place where people need to go to help,” Gascho said.

As of May 2018, Greece is home to more than 60,000 refugees. Gascho will be stationed at the Moria Camp, where 9,000 of such are packed into. Currently, Moria is at 300 percent capacity, and those that live there come from many of the neighboring lands: places such as Syria, Lebanon and even parts of Africa. However, their main goal is not to stay there as the ultimate destination for these refugees is Europe. The problem is, the majority of them only speak Arabic.

This is where Gascho comes in. As part of her mission, she said she will be “doing stuff like teaching English and German Classes.” Teaching a language is no easy feat, especially for someone as young as Gascho. She makes note of being new to the idea but is excited, nevertheless.

“I’ve never taught a language before, so it’ll be a totally weird experience, but I think It’ll be fun,” Gascho said. “The majority of it will be immersion. I don’t know if you’ve ever stepped into a language class and the teacher is just speaking the language and doesn’t stop to speak in your language. It works after a while, it’s just awkward at first.”

After her mission, Gascho plans on going to college. After college, she hopes to continue to spend time doing similar work to that which she will have done in Lesvos.

“I want to do something that’s like humanitarian work, to help people that are hurting around the world,” Gascho said.

Gascho isn’t the only senior ahead of the traditional graduation schedule. Many students choose to graduate early; one such senior being Alec Oker. Oker is eager to move on to the next chapter of his life- for different reasons. Ever since he heard it was an option his freshman year, he knew he wanted to graduate early.

Well, kind of. Oker will be taking an online English course to meet the graduation requirement. He will cross the stage with the class of 2019, he just won’t be physically at school during the upcoming second semester.

Oker is not a fan of the classroom. He finds it challenging to learn just from studying, looking at a board and taking notes.

“If I’m just coming here to take a test, what’s the point,” Oker said. “We learn to test, we don’t learn to learn.”

With high school completed a few months early, Oker will have the opportunity to get a head start on his dream job as an electrician. He feels that graduating early will allow him the opportunity to accomplish more with his time. As an electrician, he hopes to make his contribution to society, and the lives of people in it.

Currently, Oker has a part-time job at Discount Tire. With the free time he would have otherwise spent at school, he plans on working there full-time. Discount Tire will provide him a tuition program to pay for trade school. Although he doesn’t plan on going to college, he hopes to find success as an electrician through trade school or in joining a union. If being an electrician doesn’t work out, his backup is to be a carpenter and work on the construction of houses, or go into automotive repair and become a mechanic.

Oker knows that graduating early can be scary for some students, but he also knows that he is not alone in the quest many teenagers are on to discover their purpose.

“Just to put the idea out there for a lot of students, you don’t necessarily have to graduate with all your credits done right away,” Oker said. “You can do what I’m doing and work with your counselor. You can always get started in something else sooner by just taking a few classes online. One thing that stops students from graduating early is that last English credit and it’s really easy to work around that.”