A STAFFORD teenager is planing a gap year with a difference. Instead of trekking round the world or partying in Thailand, Hanako Ichii-Jones will be spending a year teaching children and young people in Africa.
The 18-year-old former Blessed William Howard pupil is heading for Tanzania in October, where she will be diving her time between teaching music to schoolchildren and conversational English to university students.
She will be staying in Tanzanian capital Dodoma, and teaching in local schools and at St John’s University.
Hanako, an accomplished musician, who has been singing in the choir at St Mary’s Church since she was eight, plays the flute and the recorder. And she is taking a dozen recorders donated by her school out with her for her new pupils.
“I want a productive gap year, giving an opportunity to others far less fortunate than myself,” said Hanako, of Wolverhampton Road, who has taken A levels in music, history, and English language and literature and is considering doing a law degree.
She will be staying with a British couple, Brian and Angela Savage, the brother and sister-in-law of St Mary’s musician John Savage.
But she is meeting all her other expenses herself and is now busy fund-raising to finance her travels.
“As this is completely voluntary and I will not receive any payment for my work, all my costs from flight to day-to-day expenses will have to be funded solely by me,” Hanako explained.
Her fund-raising efforts got off to a flying start with a £300 donation from the One World Group at St Mary’s, and she is also planning a money-raising concert at the church on September 6.
The concert, at 7.30pm, will involve school friends and members of the St Mary’s Music group. Admission is free, but donations will be very welcome.
And Hanako is planning to keep her Stafford friends updated by writing a blog during her travels.