By Cat Chiang
As a mentor I always try to emphasize to team leaders that numbers aren’t everything. Success with NGC is not measured by whether you send in triple digits at the end of the year, or if you nab the support of a high profile government rep- it is about personal growth and realizing that you as an individual can make a difference in the world. NGC is in the business of producing the next generation of passionate, knowledgeable, and creative activists, who will go on- far past their NGC high school years- to make a difference.
Keeping that in mind, I want to send a special shout out to a team of amazing, strong, and powerful NGC women. After three years of struggling with a tough administration, complicated team dynamics, and an intimidating student body of over 4,000 students – Independence High School had its most successful year yet. The secret to their success? A team of bright, extremely kind girls who focused on team bonding (like a sleepover where they showed Half the Sky and ate popcorn), fundraisers that incorporated the project they chose (like pretty bracelets they made together with educational facts attached to them), and an overall democratic process at team meetings. As we sat together and wrapped up the year, it was clear that these girls were incredibly passionate, and above all were amazing leaders. I watched (bubbling over with pride) as they told the leaders they had chosen for next year, that “you shouldn’t focus on what fundraisers can raise the most money. Focus on a fundraiser that can incorporate the most teamwork, the most education and awareness, and the most advocacy.” They then told me that they had made some of their best friends due to NGC, and that not only did they all want to be team mentors, but that they planned to start NGC clubs at their universities next year. Words cannot describe how proud I am of you all – Great job girls!!!
Arcadia High’s NGC Team from Arcadia, California decided to stay local with their project of choice. In their first year, the team has partnered with The School on Wheels organization in Los Angeles, California. The team has also emphasized community involvement, and team members have collectively volunteered at community shelters in their area.
In highlighting the intersectionality of the issues tackled by NGC’s many partners, the club has also paid attention to the role of women in various communities and has showcased the documentary “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” Their focus on educating themselves on such issues has been uses as a precursor to them educating their community.
Their main project, School on Wheels, provides assistance to thousands of L.A.’s homeless youth in order to promote their success in school. The Arcadia team has worked on generating attention for this issue as they develop the following for their own organization. They have raised funds by partnering with local restaurants; they have truly connected to their community while exploring global issues.
Oxford’s Academy Youth Philanthropy Worldwide team from Cypress, California has worked to support the Just One Lamp organization.
Team members work diligently to create materials for Oxford’s Awareness Week
The organization finds low-income communities in Kenya and provide them with a free set of solar lanterns that were created with local materials. Through training the youth in manufacturing, Just One Lamp is able to promote the communities’ economic self-sufficiency, as they provide a source of income for the youth and insure that the use of local resources also circulates the profits. Just One Lamp also guides the communities as they decide which future economic ventures to support.
The Oxford team understands that to start the cycle donations are necessary, so they have rallied for support from their peers. Through a week-long awareness week, they were able to educate their community on the need for efficient economic developing in multiple parts of the world—and the direct connection between their aid and the success of these communities.
The Magnolia High School team from Anaheim, California has truly put forth a large effort to publicize the efforts of their members and club to their community. Through car washes, booths at school-wide events, and bake sales, among other activities, the team has focused on raising awareness about poverty in Nicaragua while generating funds for the Las Tias organization.
Las Tias implements art, music, and dance into education programs that help young Nicaraguans find the empowerment they need to break substance abuse issues. By providing educational resources such as tutoring, the 130 children who benefit can also further their education and lower their risk of being forced into the drug market.
In their first year, the team has established their presence while building off of existing on-campus events. This has allowed the team to increase their membership while also developing camaraderie between such leaders!
Seventeen-year-old Soha Ghanian is among the four NGC young women to receive the Global Leadership Adventure scholarship.
Soha applied for the GLA trip to fulfill her desire of applying the knowledge NGC presented her with on global issues.
She says, “I hoped to travel to Uganda or other nations affected from HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. GLA would provide the perfect opportunity for me to explore global issues and teen-driven solutions with other like-minded new global citizens.”
This previous school year, Soha led an NGC team at Horizon Community Learning Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
“While establishing this club, I wanted to mobilize the student body at Horizon Community Learning Center to help make a difference,” she says. “Our team raised funds and awareness to help combat HIV/AIDS in Uganda through our partnership with House of Hope.”
In the fall, she will be attending Brown University’s Program in Liberal Medical Education, an eight year B.S./M.D. program.
“I have always been intrigued by medicine and with humanity,” Soha says. “Once I become a physician, I hope to extend my healing hand to those with infectious diseases and around the world.”