HorizonsJun 23, 2022

updated Jun 23, 2022

Passion Project — Global Citizenship in Action

Students on two continents working to create change

Every other Friday morning, an ambitious group of 9th and 10th graders settles into a Thompson Humanities Wing classroom and gets to work. That’s not unusual by any stretch, except this ambitious bunch includes students on two continents.

The Global Citizenship Project connects students from Miss Hall’s School and the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Rwanda (GGAST). Together, they have been 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 group also includes 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 are developing 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.

I never thought I’d be working with people across the world, and that is 100% what I have enjoyed the most.

MHS Global Citizenship Project

While working on the project, the MHS and GGAST students have also explored underlying causes of teenage pregnancy and have researched Rwanda, its history, and its cultural norms. Partnering with GGAST provides important local insight, while ensuring the booklets are culturally appropriate. Every other week, the teams connect via Zoom, catching up on progress since their last meeting and setting goals for their next meeting. They also get to know more about each other, an aspect that has been especially valuable.

“I really enjoy communicating with people across the world every two weeks or so,” explained Lily. “I really wanted to try something new, and I thought this was something that would benefit other communities outside of my own. 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. Now we are working on a very specific and doable project. 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 have 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.”