Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09


Student: Taylor Montemarano     

Mentor: Veronica Philippi




Title: Explore, Inspire, Impact


For my Senior Project I organized a fundraiser event where all of the proceeds went to the Happy Africa Foundation. This foundation uses every cent of their funding for promoting and advancing sustainable community and conservation development on the continent on Africa. I have specifically arranged for all of the money I raised to go to an African Impact project in Zanzibar, where I worked with over the summer. I chose my project because I could relate to the people as well as the community in Zanzibar. I realized that I didn't only need to physically be there to make an impact, but that I could from home as well. My fundraiser event consisted of a screening of a short film I made, African drumming and dancing, a photo exhibit and sale, as well as ethnic foods.










For my senior project, I hosted a fundraiser event for an organization called African Impact & made an 8 min film which promoted the group called Explore, Inspire, Impact. My idea came about in March of last year when I took a school trip to Mozambique. While we were there we worked with an organization called African Impact. We were told that we were going to be building an orphanage. Now normally, when I think of building, I think of concrete blocks, cement, maybe shovels, some tools? Not quite. We ended up working with this thin wood called laka laka, machetes, and even digging with our bare hands. After three days of working very hard we had made 4 small huts for the kids from the orphanage to live in. Honestly, when we were finished, I know we all felt some sort of accomplishment, but at the same time I know we all couldnÕt help but question; How would these four huts possibly improve their living conditions? The question remained unanswered for most of us until the day that the orphans took us all down to where they were living at the time. Upon seeing this, it became very clear that the huts we were building would in fact be a tremendous improvement over where they were currently living. When I got home from the trip, I could not stop thinking about being in Africa and how much of an impact we had on these childrenÕs lives.


Both Annie McGrath & I begged and pleaded our parents every day trying to convince them to send us back, but it was not working so well. After a while I managed to convince my mom that it would be a great opportunity for her to go with us; and that July, the three of us were on our way to Tanzania. We chose a different project within African Impact; one that focused on teaching in a local nursery school and introducing conservation to the island of Zanzibar. We wanted to continue our volunteer work with the organization, but figured it would be a good idea to expand it to other areas and not focus on solely Mozambique. While we were in Zanzibar we taught English in a nursery school to kids that only spoke Swahili. It was difficult to say the least but we also had a lot of fun with them introducing them to art and finger painting and playing games like limbo and the hokey pokey. I filmed with a school camera when I was down there,  thinking that maybe I could make a short film out of it by throwing a couple of different clips together or that I could just have the footage as memories to save and look back on. Over the course of two weeks, besides helping the teachers and teaching the kids, we also painted the outside of the school and cleaned up the outside area.  All of these things created a new sense of pride and joy among the teachers and the students. Overall, during the course of these two trips, I was really impressed with how the whole African Impact organization was put together and how both of these projects were so fun, simple, and at the same time so effective.­­­­


When I got back from my second trip, after being dragged home, I wanted to figure out some sort of way in which I could help out this organization. I brainstormed through everything and concluded that a fundraiser event would be the best idea. When school started there were countless things on my to-do list. I had to pick a date and after looking through the school calendar I chose one of the only available Friday nights, November 7th. I then had to go to a facilities meeting telling each department what I would need the night of the event. At the same time that I was organizing this whole thing, I was also sorting through my footage from Tanzania and trying to figure out if there was anything useful on the 7 tapes of that I had shot. Thankfully I was in a film class all by myself, which made it easier to learn how to use Final Cut and how to log and capture as well as an attempt to make a storyline out of this footage. Throughout the next couple of weeks, I was constantly working on one thing after the other.


First I had to create a press release to send out to all of the local newspapers, so that they could help me spread awareness throughout the HamptonÕs, most of them wrote up small articles and the Sag Harbor Express even came in and interviewed me. I recorded a radio commercial on WLNG, which helped out a lot, even though it was really weird hearing my own voice on the radio. Next, I had to write up a letter to send out asking local stores and businesses asking for any sort of donation that I could raffle off the night of the event and then I had to research the local foods in Tanzania and construct a menu of various foods that would actually appeal to all of my guests. Even after all of this, I then had to sort through my moms photographs looking for ones that would potentially sell to the public and call up drummers asking them to volunteer their time to play that night. After creating my posters for the event, I went from town to town hanging them up, and stayed at school late almost every night working to try and pull something out of my film. That was probably my greatest challenge; working with film, which I had never done before. Creating a film is very time consuming. It was hard enough trying to use the footage that I had to actually convey a meaningful message, but to do it within a condensed time period was even more stressful. After much time and help from Mr. Kilfara, I created an 8 min short film all about African Impact and screened it at my event.


The night finally came, and I rushed around all day pulling things together. The cafˇ was decorated with all African shirts and statues. My cousin and brother made a delicious authentic African meal, which I didnÕt even get to eat because I was rushing from one thing to another, but supposedly it was very good. I had a raffle with some clothing, jewelry, framed photographs, and various other things that were donated as well. We had Sacks and a couple kids from his ethnomusicology class come in and drum and dance for a bit and I also had Dan Bailey and a couple of local drummers drum for a good hour or so later on that night. Around 8ish, I screened my film and that alone gave everyone a much better understanding of how wonderful an organization African Impact is and how their contribution will go such a long way My event raised $5,500 dollars, which I know will be used wisely by the dedicated volunteers and project managers I worked with during my visits. The night was successful to say the least and not only did I raise awareness for this incredible organization, but I also changed the lives of others by donating this sum of money to fund their various needs.


African Impact started writing articles about me and I could tell that they were truly appreciative of everything I had done for them. They uploaded my film to their website, and send it out to all potential volunteers as a way to encourage others to work with them and that was my goal. I wanted to encourage others to want to go, and to just experience a whole different world, and see through someone elseÕs eyes for once. I didnÕt think I would change the world, I knew I couldnÕt, but seeing the impact that I did have, as just one person in such a small community, it made me think of what 100 people could do on a larger scale.


We all know the world wonÕt ever be perfect, but if I can continue to contribute something, and encourage others to do the same. Then together we can make a difference. My project was successful to say the least. I was the first to finish my product and one of the first to present. I rose more than money than intended and surpassed my goal. The component of film in which I wasnÕt sure would even come into play within my project, managed to come together just in time of the screening at my event. Everyone enjoyed it, and it is now uploaded on the African Impact website to encourage other potential volunteers to want to join with the organization.

Works Consulted


"Come and Join Us on the Island of Zanzibar." African Impact. Sept. 2008.


"Dan's Papers - November 7, 2008 - Day By Day." - Your Guide to the Hamptons and North Fork. Sept. 2008. 21 Jan. 2009. <


"Montauk Pioneer - November 21, 2008 - Explore, Inspire, Impact." - Your Guide to the Hamptons and North Fork. Sept. 2008. 21 Jan. 2009. <


"Montalk©, Montauk Sun." Montauk Restaurants, Fishing, Real Estate, Boating, News, Events. 21 Jan. 2009 <>.


"Pre-School and Teaching Project Zanzibar - Tanzania." GAPYEAR.COM - Ideas, Volunteering, Backpacking & Travel Mates. Sept. 2008. 21 Jan. 2009. <


"Rural Teaching Zanzibar." Sept. 2008. <


"Taylor Montemarano | The Sag Harbor Express." 21 Jan. 2009. <>.


"Volunteer Work Africa - African Impact Blog - Gap Year Travel Africa Volunteer Work Africa Working Holiday Abroad." Volunteer in Africa - Volunteer Work in Africa - Gap Year Africa Volunteering. Sept. 2008. 21 Jan. 2009 <>.



Community Member (Details)


My outside consultants are located on the island of Zanzibar. Although they werenÕt able to see my product, they have watched my film and will have the money that I raised soon enough. The process is very time consuming, but African Impact will have the money to fund their various needs soon. I have emails back and forth with them keeping them updated on my step by step process in my process folio.