Senior plans community service fair

Chronicle Staff

John Kenchelian ’08 planned a fair, set to take place Feb 23 at Pilgrim School in downtown Los Angeles, to promote Fair Trade. The Fair Fair will include vendors selling Fair Trade goods such as jewelry made with recycled paper by Ugandans, the works of Mayan artisans and high-quality cards crafted by Armenian women.

Kenchelian planned the Fair Fair—a name he coined—with Community Los Angeles Student Service, or CLASS. It is a community service group of 16 students from Marlborough School, Oakwood School, Windward School, Pilgrim and Harvard-Westlake.

CLASS is a subsidiary of and funded by CSA, the parent Community Services Agency to which all of the involved schools belong.

The fair will include eight vendors, live music and food sellers representing the various regions that Fair Trade supports.

“Fair Trade is basically the idea that you’re trying to go to impoverished parts of the world that promote various good that are exploited by other countries,” Kenchelian said.

This year CLASS, which is directly overseen by the community service advisors from Oakwood, Marlborough, and Pilgrim, decided to hold a fair in addition to their normal annual conference. Pilgrim School was picked as the location for the fair because of construction at Marlborough, which is where CLASS normally holds conferences, Kenchelian said.

According to Kenchelian, these annual conferences, which he attended for two years before joining CLASS this past summer, consisted mostly of speakers who would give seminars on community service. But Kenchelian feels that in holding a fair instead of a conference, CLASS’s overall goal is the same.

“[Both] are to spread awareness about a certain topic,” he said. “But at the same time a [conference] is sort of less hands-on.”

Essentially, Fair Trade is meant aid impoverished countries which are not able to market their goods on their own. Fair Trade groups take goods from these countries, sell them, and then return the profits.

“It’s a really hard thing to do,” Kenchelian said. “You have to get to the places, come back, get the profits, and make sure all the profits go back.”

Kenchelian hopes that the Fair Fair will spread awareness about Fair Trade, but at the same time has some reservations, saying that while Fair Trade is an admirable goal, it is not completely feasible on a large scale.

“I’d say Fair Trade’s a hard thing to attain so it’s more of an ideal goal more than something that’s realistic,” Kenchelian said.

“It would be great because it levels the playing field of the economic world,” he added. “People who might have been unable to reap profits from what they themselves produce would now be able to get a reward.”