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HorizonsDec 15, 2022

updated Dec 28, 2022

Global Citizenship in Action

Students on two continents working to create change

Update 12/15/22: Congratulations to Miss Hall’s School and the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Kigali, Rwanda, on receiving the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools Moulton Student Global Citizenship Grant! Established to “enhance global mindfulness by developing empathy and respect for others, this grant will continue the partnership between the two schools. This exciting work will be supported going forward by MHS Dean of Equity and Inclusion Paula Lima Jones and French Teacher Aurélie Cressin.

Every other Friday morning during the 2021-22 school year, an ambitious group of 9th and 10th graders settled into a Thompson Humanities Wing classroom and got to work. That wasn't unusual by any stretch, except this ambitious bunch included students on two continents.

The Global Citizenship Project that started last year connects students from Miss Hall’s School and the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Rwanda (GGAST). Together, they are working to address issues of teen pregnancy and reproductive health, specifically in the Nyabagendwa community of eastern Rwanda.

Paula Lima Jones

“We want to provide these young girls with the necessary tools and information needed to be leaders and also empowered advocates for their own health,” explains Idalis De Jesus ’25, one of the MHS participants. The founding group also included Inyene Bell ’25, Cora Ma ’24, Lily McDonald ’25, Chloe Muellers ’25, Ivette Solis ’25, and Eden Zuckerman-Hood ’24. There are 10 Gashora students participating.

Together, the students developed informative and accessible booklets that cover topics such as safe sex, consent, and reproductive health. Each booklet includes medical resources, illustrations, stories from young women, and news about women’s health. The booklets will be translated into Kinyarwanda, the native language of Rwanda, as well as French and English, which are widely spoken in the country.

Many young women around the world face the challenge of teenage pregnancy. It is a global issue, and we want to provide girls with necessary tools and information to be leaders and advocate for their own health. Our goal in partnering with GGAST is for girls and women globally to gain confidence in their sexual and reproductive health.

MHS Global Citizenship Project

While working on the project, the MHS and GGAST students also explored underlying causes of teenage pregnancy and researched Rwanda, its history, and its cultural norms. Partnering with GGAST has provided important local insight, while ensuring the booklets are culturally appropriate. The teams connected via Zoom, catching up on progress since last meeting and setting goals for what’s next. They also got to know more about each other, an aspect they found especially valuable.

“I really wanted to try something new, and I thought this was something that would benefit other communities outside of my own," explained Lily. "I never thought I’d be working with people across the world, and that is 100% what I have enjoyed the most.”

Cora noted that she valued the process of discovering the project as it unfolded. “I learned that when you are starting a project, it’s okay if you don’t have a specific direction yet,” she said. “At the beginning, we had great ideas, but we didn’t know in which direction to head. As we went along and had several discussions, we made solid progress. This is an amazing process to experience, and it made me realize that when you are starting something, it is good to just head toward it and do it, and not be afraid of not knowing what to do at first.”

The students from Gashora also leaped at the opportunity to collaborate with peers a world away. “I have enjoyed working together as a team to collaborate, plan meetings, and impact someone’s life,” noted one student. “We get to know people on the other side of the world we didn't know, and now we are friends. We enjoy the way we are working to help these teenagers.”

“The most important thing is teamwork,” added another. “We are so many miles away from each other but we are able to work as one team. I also learned that even though this topic is sensitive, we can reach out to everyone and take the chance to transform other people's lives.”