MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As school districts gear up for a new year, many across Minnesota are also getting ready for the return of We Day.

It hits the Xcel Energy Center on Nov. 12.

We Day is a star-studded concert that rewards middle school and high school students for their volunteer work and community service projects across the year.

On Wednesday, I talked with a teenager from Farmington, Minn., who just returned from Kenya, where he helped build a school.

Back in February, we saw students from the Farmington school district hand over the coins and cash they collected for weeks, as part of their We Day commitment.

Together they raised $10,000 to help fund a project run by Free the Children.

That money was used to build a school in a village outside of Nairobi.

Farmington High School senior Jason Lansing was part of the construction crew that worked on the school.

“The foundation hadn’t been laid but it was all dug out, and there were rocks that had to be smashed with sledgehammers, so the first week we were sledgehammering, the second week we were mixing cement,” Lansing said.

He worked with a group of other teenagers from Canada and the United States. He says they slept on cots inside a tent, but felt the trip was extremely rewarding.

“Empowering people who haven’t been empowered yet is going to get them to help their own communities, and it will start a chain reaction where we are all helping each other,” Lansing said.

He spent three weeks getting to know the locals, meeting kids who were a lot like American kids, but he also witnessed the hardships that some face.

“What will really stay in my mind from there is the tattered clothing, and all the dirt roads and people not having shoes, stepping on rocks,” Lansing said.

Jason is eager to share what he’s learned about having resources and being grateful.

“Now, if I have to carry a suitcase up for my mom, it’s like not even heavy,” Lansing said. “I think the most important thing I learned is to be patient with both myself and other people.”

Last year was the first year We Day concerts were held in the United States, with the Twin Cities and Seattle being the first locations.

Your school district can still get involved. Click here for more information.

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