Who says a rat (and a 9 year old) can’t be a Hero?

Dianna Schwartz
Program Associate

In recent weeks, New Global Citizens has taken an exciting turn- as we can now count an even younger generation amongst our membership!  A team of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at the Center for Educational Excellence in Tempe have formed a team and decided to support APOPO for their project.

If you’re keeping track, that means 8 & 9 year olds are now helping support HeroRats in Tanzania.  Which is just the raddest premise ever!

Translating APOPO to language appropriate to 9 year olds was a task Jennifer and I set out to do a few weeks ago.  How would we explain landmines to them?  Did we need to show them exactly where Tanzania was?  What about the fact that rats get a naturally bad rap in our society- playing second fiddle/devil’s advocate to the mouse?  Mice ALWAYS win.  They’re cute.  They seem harmless.  Think about it- Mighty Mouse, Pinky and the Brain, Mickey and Minnie!  Mice have always won the role of protagonist in America.  The rats get handed the antagonist role more often than not- almost like it’s their DUTY.

But, we brainstormed some ideas, pulled some clips of Remy from Ratatouille, added some pictures of Splinter, and translated our NGC mission into the simplest language we could design- and off we set to meet the team.

Who proceeded to BLOW US AWAY.

Not only did they “get” the material, they asked brilliant questions and followed along with the entire thought process.  As Jennifer explained how much of the world lives on less than $2 a day, she asked them what they would choose to spend their money on if given such a meager budget.  It was fascinating to see which students nodded that they’d spend their cut on food- or which ones said medicine- and, best of all- the fact that practically none of them wanted to spend it on school 😉

When we started talking about landmines, there were questions about everything.  What would set it off  (A dog?  A bigger dog?  A baby?)  which the teacher fielded gracefully (“No, YOUR dog would be small enough to not set it off, Joey”).  Students asked how the rats would be able to “fix” the mines (the answer is, they don’t.  Their role is simply locating the mine and marking it on a target, so that trained de-miners can come in later to deactivate it).  And, lastly, they of course wanted to know….Why?  Why would there BE such terrible atrocities as landmines in the world?  Their teacher and advisor, Jessica, answered in the most simple and beautiful manner.  “Because there are some people in the world who do not-very-nice things.  But we can talk more about that later.”

So today our ranks of New Global Citizens welcomes into its folds the team of 3rd-5th graders at CEE with open arms.  We are THRILLED to have them as part of the movement, and certain they’ll do great things this semester.  Their enthusiasm was palpable, and absolutely adorable.

When Jennifer asked them, “Who is going to fix these problems plaguing our world today?”  they wasted little time with the fluffy answers (the president, congress, etc.)

One of the students in the front row shot his hand up and said, “I AM.”

Ahh.  You got it- and stole Jennifer’s thunder to announce it!  You ARE the generation that will solve the world’s greatest challenges.  And THAT is what it means to be a New Global Citizen 🙂

Winter Update on Teams from Katrina

The mission of New Global Citizens is to help solve the greatest challenges faced by communities around the world. After one semester as a New Global Citizen’s team mentor, I wholeheartedly feel that we are upholding this mission as a collaborative team. Through our office administrative team, team mentors and most importantly, students, we are all acting as an agent of positive change. Ghandi would stand tall in our lifestyle of being the change we wish to see in the world.

New Global Citizens success shines from our many schools across the nation. I am lucky to have spectacular New Global Citizens teams with phenomenal team leaders. Before we endure on our many adventures in 2011, I’ll take a moment to review all of the success we had in the fall of 2010!

To begin with, Basha High School from Chandler, Arizona has made me proud. Once a freshman at Basha myself, I have seen much growth in the community. Team leader Maryam Shakir continues to amaze me with her passion towards being an agent of positive change. I had the honor of counseling Maryam at a leadership and diversity camp called Chandler Unitown, and it was here where I noticed that she has the skill to make a difference in the world. Basha’s global project, House of Hope, helps children orphaned because of AIDS to receive clean water, medical care, education, adequate nutrition and most importantly, the security of knowing that somebody loves them. The team has successfully raised awareness and money for their project in many means. For example during their school’s Homecoming Carnival, Basha’s New Global Citizens team had a booth where a basketball-type game was played. Students enjoyed playing, and the club raised money while enjoying the festivities. In addition, the team hosted “Bracelets of Hope.” Here they made bracelets to sell before and after school, as well as during lunch. The bracelets were $1 to any student – this increased campus awareness. All of the members had a blast! To wrap up, currently the Basha High New Global Citizens Team is planning a dodge ball tournament! This will be the team’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and we are expecting it to be a big hit! Maryam and her team will publicize the event throughout campus and will continue to prepare for the event! Everybody loves a little dodge ball! Keep it up, Basha!

Heading on over to the other side of the country, Westminster in Massachusetts is rolling in success. Through team leader Marielle Lafaire’s leadership, the Westminister New Global Citizens team is spreading awareness about their project, The Nirvanavan Foundation. This project is a grassroots organization working in remote areas of Alwar district of Rajasthan on education, ecological and social issues. Marielle and her team are passionate towards gender equality and child prostitution and they will not rest until there is a positive change in these areas. The team had a very successful fundraiser in a bake sale. Simple, yet triumphant. They made about $265.00 at their bake sale! Congratulations, Westminster…that’s AWESOME! Even better, they are that much closer to their fundraising goal of $400. Westminister has 400 students, and the team decided to have a goal of $1 for every student attending their school – fantastic idea. They are committed to their goals and I envision this team being very successful. On the same note, their community education goal is 800 people – two times the number of students. Through their knowledge and actions, Westminster is doing a phenomenal job at our mid-point.  Despite the difficulties that lay before them being a boarding school, The Westminster team continues to have meetings and discuss the 8+2 Millennium goals. They are continuing to brainstorm fundraiser ideas, and I know no matter which direction they choose, we are looking at a bright spring semester!

Back on over to my part of town, we have Bioscience in Phoenix, Arizona. I have recently become in touch with their team leader, Santiago Gariepy, and I am absolutely thrilled! This is a new and fresh team, and I understand that many opportunities and difficulties lay before the team. Not to worry though, we will prevail! The team is in the midst of recruiting members and will soon be deciding on a project. The team has many opinions and ideas that are just waiting to be shared. Frankly, deciding on ONE project is the most difficult part, so once we move past this step, it will be smooth sailing from here. Now that I finally have Santiago’s correct e-mail address, we are going to be rocking and rolling! Not to mention, I’m right next door!

Just a few cities over, Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona is proving to be a team full of leaders. Their New Global Citizens team’s project is the Al-Rowwad Theater – offering children in Aida, a refugee camp for Palestinians, an alternative to violence through activities like sports, arts and theater. Red Mountain believes in engaging in non-violent communication and expresses this through their everyday lifestyle. Red Mountain is one of our veteran schools and for that reason, my support is nice cushion. Upcoming this semester, the Red Mountain New Global Citizens team will host their annual benefit concert. For one, I am absolutely thrilled and cannot wait to go! It may be fun for a bunch of New Global Citizens advocates to attend and help make this concert the best one ever! Team leader Madison Klug is very committed and passionate, and she has a nice feel on what to do and when to do it in order to being successful. In preparation for their benefit concert, the team participated in their school’s Homecoming tailgate. Continuing to delegate and prepare for their concert, the NGC team is ready to put in countless hours and creative ideas in order to make a significant dent in a positive change.

Next up, The Papa Bears! The new team, apart of the Walter Payton College Preparatory School is stepping up their game! Through the short time we have all communicated, I am very impressed by the team’s ambition towards New Global Citizens and their specific projects. This specific New Global Citizens team has decided to raise both money and awareness for three different projects. They decided this simply because of their interest in supporting a global project, a national project and a local project. Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Walter Payton New Global Citizens team had decided on helping The Chicago House in their area. This provides permanent housing, supportive services and prevention outreach for people with AIDS or HIV. In North America, they are supporting Schools on Wheel is Los Angeles, California. This project works to increase education opportunities for homeless children ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. On a global scale, they are supporting the Well Repair Project in Malawi. This specific project works with communities around Malawi to help fix their wells for $5. This supplies fresh water for the community. As a new team to New Global Citizens, The Paper Bears are inventive, ambitious and zealous. With a group of team leaders, they are ready to lead their team to success. Currently the team has about 20 members, and it is only growing. They are on track for a successful year and will be in the process of forming ideas of fundraisers and means of raising awareness in their school. Way to go, Papa Bears. Lets do this!

Last, but certainly not least, we have Cypress Falls High School in Texas. Cypress has gone above and beyond by choosing The Smile Group – Friends of Thay Hung because they are interested in the fact that a social stigma and limit was placed on these children who have no other choice than to live with AIDS. I am beyond impressed by all of their fundraising and awareness ideas circulating such as selling candy grams and carnation grams, hosting a rummage sale, having a community book sale and hosting a board game tournament. Cypress Falls New Global Citizens team is full of creativity and I look forward to working with them more during this spring semester to reach our goals!

Phew…that’s it (for now)! I am thankful for being surrounded by such wonderful youth and I’m looking forward to a fun and successful new semester. I hope that everyone had a joyous holiday season and is ready to be the change in their school and community with the New Year! I believe in all of you.


– Katrina