Skyline grad needs to raise funds for educational trip to Guatemala

July 21, 2009

By Fereshta Noman

Bill Doerrfeld has been accepted with a select group of 12 students around the country for a yearlong cultural learning experience and opportunity to help local communities in Guatemala. Contributed

Bill Doerrfeld has been accepted with a select group of 12 students around the country for a yearlong cultural learning experience and opportunity to help local communities in Guatemala. Contributed

While many 17-year-olds might be kicking back during summer, recent Skyline High School graduate Bill Doerrfeld spends his days washing cars and selling tickets, so he can participate in a yearlong educational program to help people in Guatemala.

Doerrfeld was one of 12 students in the U.S. and abroad who was selected by the Magic Carpet Rides program to visit Guatemala.

“Seeing the world would allow me to gain new insights on life and I’m excited about it,” Doerrfeld said.

Magic Carpet Rides is a gap-year program that gives high school graduates the opportunity to experience diverse cultures, explore natural attractions and assist indigenous people.

“The program is for people who want to travel and explore,” Doerrfeld said. “The point is to engage us in complete cultural immersion.”

Valerie Doerrfeld, Bill’s mother, said she believes the program is an exciting opportunity for her son.“I’m eager for him to learn other cultures,” she said. “Everybody knows that the world doesn’t live like us.”

Doerrfeld and his family are eager for the trip, but he must raise additional funds for the experience.

“I can’t really do this trip without the support of the community,” he said.

Magic Carpet Rides is a nonprofit organization based in Central America that assists students who are selected to visit Guatemala and help the community, as well as help build personal knowledge.

“The program is about encouraging young adults to explore the world and gain cultural awareness,” said Laura Wheelock, co-founder of Magic Carpet Rides. “We really strive to give students a hands-on experience in the world.”

Students are selected based on their academic achievements and three strong letters of recommendation.

“We look for applicants who have a commitment to service, who are adventurous, curious and hard-working,” Wheelock said.

The program operates only in Guatemala and neighboring countries, but “we do think we may expand in the future,” she said.

The program offers financial aid for most expenses, but encourages students who are unable to pay the remainder to work hard raising more funds.

“A big portion of the financial aid will be from the scholarship from Magic Carpet Rides,” Doerrfeld said. “They want to see that I’m putting forth the effort as well.”

He is using his summer to do just that. He has been raising funds in numerous ways, including seeking pledges and donations.

“I have a lot of different ways of raising money — by selling Brown Bear car wash tickets and going to the farmers market,” he said.

Bill visits the Issaquah Farmers Market to solicit donations and pledges.

Doerrfeld also displayed his musical talent in a benefit concert at Beaver Lake Park in Sammamish on July 11. He plays the trumpet, piano and drums.

“One of my bands will be performing there,” he said of the group People With Faces. “My friends offered to help out. Their bands will be playing, too.”

“He comes from a creative household,” Valerie Doerrfeld said. “I hope he can show his creativity in Guatemala.”

In high school, Doerrfeld played in the school band and acted in theater productions.

“He’s done so much and I am so proud of him,” his mother said. “He just does it all on his own.”

She believes he is deserving of the opportunity and she thinks he will benefit the program as well as the Guatemalan community.

“He is a loving and giving person,” she said. “I hope he gets the opportunity to teach some of the kids English and help them out.”

Doerrfeld said that he’s been working hard to make the trip a reality and is hopeful that the community will take part in assisting him.

“Any amount of donation will help.”

Fereshta Noman is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

How to help

Learn more about making donations to Doerrfeld’s quest at Learn more about the program at

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One Response to “Skyline grad needs to raise funds for educational trip to Guatemala”

  1. Mark Jones on July 28th, 2009 2:42 pm

    I think this article is written beautifully. Definitely some talent in this bright young girl, Fereshta. I see big things in the future. New York Times, Wallstreet Journal, Seattle Times, any would be lucky to grasp this fresh young journalist and offer her a career!

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