NEWTOWN, Conn. -- A senior at Immaculate High School in Danbury is hoping to spend his summer teaching children in West Africa.
A.J. Vitiello of Newtown said he's raising money to volunteer as an English and math teacher for children in Ghana.
"I was instantly drawn to Ghana's rich culture," he told Daily Voice.
"It seems that life revolves around community there, and I wanted to be a part of it by working in the school. Ghanaian children are living very differently than how I'm living," said Vitiello.
The experience will "help me be grateful for all my opportunities and privileges as an American student."
The summer service trip will include volunteering at a Ghanian school, building bricks used in the construction of new facilities, and studying social issues that face African women and children today.
Vitiello will spend time at an orphanage that houses children who have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.
The experience also includes a trip to Keta Slave Fort, one of many slave forts built by Europeans on the West African coast during the 1500s.
The exchange is through the youth service organization Global Leadership Adventures.
GLA arranges community service trips, hands-on learning, cultural immersion, and adventure trips for high school students.
Looking ahead to his future, Vitiello said he wants to go to New York City for college and dreams of becoming a fiction writer.
"I plan on taking an English route, with a specialization in writing or education. Professionally, I'd like to teach English at a college level and write fiction on the side," he said.
He is raising money to help pay for teaching resources and tools for the trip. Click here for the fundraising page.