Youth in the Valley Take Action for Global Cause

This post was created by Team Mentor Ahmad Abujbarah, a Phoenix-based NGC alum and student

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New Global Citizens continues to grow year-by-year as students and teachers in schools all over the country become motivated to make a difference in the lives of others all over the world. Certainly, being a Team Mentor, I enjoy seeing what these high school students create in order to raise awareness and funds for their project. Their creativity and passion always inspires me to think outside the box with every one of my endeavors. To highlight some of the team’s accomplishments, three Arizona high schools, Westwood High School, Tolleson Union High School, and Franklin Police and Fire High School, show that they are dedicated to educating and transforming their communities and the world.

Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona was invested in educating the student body for their project, The Foundation for People with Disabilities in Ecuador. The team focused on educating themselves and informing their peers on the importance of supporting this project, so children with disabilities can obtain professional care, such as therapies, medical care, and language therapy. While doing this, the team also began raising funds for the organization by asking for donations and even having a donut sale at their school, helping them raise over $300. The motivation found in this team has made it an excellent example for how hard work matched with enthusiasm can create a lasting change.

Tolleson Union High School in Tolleson, Arizona is ending its first semester for its fourth year, and the team continues to raise awareness on its own project as well as educating about issues in other parts of the world. The dedicated team members, team leaders, and team sponsor all work together to create one of the largest and most successful clubs on Tolleson’s campus. The team has hosted an Awareness Week to educate the students and teachers on the Nirvanavan Project as well as the issues of Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Universal Education, Gender Equality, Environmental Sustainability, among the list of MDGs. They also managed to raise about $100 from donations alone in that week. In November, the team hosted Documentary Night, showing the documentary Born to Brothels to highlight the issues of gender inequality as well as lack of opportunities for children in certain parts of India. Inviting New Global Citizen’s Executive Director Jennifer Vollman, the team had a large turn-out and proved that teenagers are more interested in making a positive change than many would believe. To end the semester, Tolleson NGC hosted its most popular event, Poetry Night. While allowing students to recite poetry and perform, the team has found a way to make educating and raising funds for their projects much more interactive. This Poetry Night had the largest turn-out since the event’s creation four years ago. With multiple events geared to educating and raising money, Tolleson NGC proves that high school students have the ability to get involved in global development if they are given the opportunity to create such change.

The final team Franklin Police and Fire High School in Phoenix, Arizona focused most of it attention on educating the team on global development and civil engagement. In November, the team attended a discussion at the Phoenix City Hall to discuss the importance of civil engagement. With this, the team educated itself on the importance of being involved in creating a safe and positive environment, both locally and globally, thus bringing better opportunities to all the people in a community. The team has also utilized its meetings to discuss the MDGs in depth as well as informing themselves on the how to find solutions for the issues all over the world. Thus, the team acts as an example for how simple awareness is the first step to making a difference in the world.

However, these are only three NGC teams, they show the basic characteristics of a strong and dedicated group. The teams try to make the work they do fun, and they enjoy learning more about the world as well as sharing that knowledge with the people around them. They will take these experiences with them in their future, and will continue to think outside-the-box when it comes to creating solutions for obstacles. I can only imagine what the next semester holds for these three teams and all New Global Citizens teams.

Compassion: Building A Path Towards A Better Future

The following post was written by New Global Citizens Director of Programs Lisa Glenn
Lisa with her class in South Africa

Lisa with her class in South Africa

The world needs more compassion.
After graduating college, I found myself in Johannesburg, South Africa, serving out of a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship at University of the Witwatersrand.
For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people unlike me in every imaginable way–a big departure from my small town Southern upbringing. Johannesburg is a city of roughly 5 million people, and like the rest of South Africa, has eleven official languages and multitudes of ethnic and religious groups. As a newly minted college graduate, I was definitely in a world I didn’t understand.
It was easy to become disoriented, homesick, or jaded by the bustling crowds and unimaginable poverty. But in this confusing new place, I was lucky to find a friend. Elizabeth was a middle-aged teacher from Botswana also studying education with me at Wits. She was also unlike me in many ways. She had grown up in Africa in a much more impoverished situation than myself. She spoke Setswana, English, and some Afrikaans. We had very little in common from a first encounter. But on one campus bus ride home from class, we found our common ground.
“Eish, I’m so homesick!” Elizabeth said to me. “It is so hard for me to leave my family and to be so far away. But who am I to tell you? Your family is even further away than mine! Shame! How are you doing with all this change?”
From then on, we spent rides home and evenings studying and giggling like elementary schoolers.
 
Lisa with friends in Mozambique

Lisa with friends in Mozambique

Elizabeth’s friendship and compassion, so unexpected, opened me up to see the similarities between my world and the new world that I had walked into. Through such an unexpected friendship, I was able to see that my hopes and fears weren’t that unlike those of others across the world. Elizabeth wanted to finish her degree, return to her family (she had two adorable kids), and make the world a little better as a teacher. My friendship with Elizabeth taught me that compassion shown to another human can open up doors you might never imagine. 

 
Being a humanitarian isn’t about saving the world or doing all the right things. It’s about being a human who is fundamentally “for” other humans. It’s believing that we are more defined by our similarities than our differences, and that when we find those similarities, we can see each other as partners and advocates instead of adversaries or competitors.
Compassion enables us to work toward a better future for all.  

Lisa right of Nelson Mandela stature

Lisa right of Nelson Mandela stature

 
Elizabeth and I were able to live out our compassion for each other by being around when the other was homesick. Elizabeth would make me traditional Motswana food while I edited her writing (English was one of several languages for her). We would make sure to meet each other at the bus. Years after leaving South Africa, I am still struck by Elizabeth’s compassion. She now works as the Head of School at a rural school in Botswana which has been hit hard by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Many of her students are orphans, many arrive without proper nutrition, and few have not been affected in some way by this terrible disease. Elizabeth lives out her days as a true humanitarian by offering compassion through the act of education to children who desperately need someone to be “for” them. 
 
Humanitarianism is ubuntu. I am because you are because we are. 
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