Bridging Gaps: From Malawi to Ridgewood

There are very few things in life that can truly be considered a “win-win” situation. However, a new club at Ridgewood High School may fit this description perfectly. City Cottage is an organization where students in Malawi will be interacting and completing a unit of study with students at Ridgewood High School. As explained by Mr. Appel, a history teacher at RHS and the curriculum director of City Cottage, there is a need for better educational resources in Malawi, a developing country in East Africa. With a strong teaching staff, this organization hopes to bridge some of the gaps between schools in Malawi and schools in our area.

As a registered non-profit organization in the state of New York, City Cottage welcomes donations to work towards their goal of having enough funds to begin construction on a school in Malawi in the summer of 2018. According to the current plan, students could start utilizing the schools in Malawi as early as the 2018 school year. The first location will be built in Malawi´s capital city of Lilongwe, although it will also host students from neighboring villages. After the highly experienced City Cottage construction team completes the school, students will work together to choose and complete a unit through webcam.

According to the mission statement of the organization, the club will “harness the peer-to-peer power of City Cottage hubs in developing nations.” Not even the language barrier can stop this organization from getting off the ground. There are translators in place for any students who have little or no English skills. In addition to this, City Cottage will use a software that translates text during collaboration. Now that these barriers have been torn down, students from across the world will be able to communicate seamlessly. Not only is this non-profit organization allowing underprivileged students to learn, but there is also an invaluable benefit for students here in America. As students in Ridgewood, we learn about concepts and conditions with which we have no personal experience. It is one thing to hear only peripherally about what is happening on the other side of the world. It is another altogether to get the experience of understanding the mindset of people living completely different lives than our own. Thus, Ridgewood students will gain a deeper understanding of new cultural perspectives from this offering.

Anyone can help support this incredibly valuable cause with a large-scale impact. Visit the City Cottage website at and learn more about how to donate. You can contribute financially with as little as $5 to help the nonprofit reach its end goal of $525,000 in funds to complete construction and help get the center off the ground. Spend $5+ to purchase a bronze brick for the building, $50+ to purchase a silver brick and $500+ to purchase a gold brick. These donations will be put to good use, whether for the construction of the main City Cottage center, the construction of a small accommodation space for visitors, a minibus to bring Malawi students to the center, or the training and salary for Malawi staff in preparation for the opening of City Cottage.

Caroline Loscalzo
staff writer

Graphic: Amelia Chen

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