My East African colleagues are still on break, and I have no intention of interrupting Sister Salome’s movies, so almost all of the activity around here has been of the paperwork-filing, envelope-stuffing, toner-cartridge-installing variety: not a very good topic for a blog post. Fortunately, there have been a few bright spots. First, all of my thanks go out to Richard (Board President), Donna (Board Clerk) and three absolutely fantastic volunteers who showed up at the office at 5:30 in the evening with pizza to stuff 500 envelopes while I went to my web development meeting. Really, my eyes tear over every time I think of them.
And besides that, there are some new team members in the making. This week I headed across the river to Dudley Square to meet with Kalya of Boston’s Black Ministerial Alliance and Erin, the program director for Boston’s chapter of Science Club for Girls. Like us, they work on making sure that the next generation of women has every opportunity to succeed and to share that success with families and communities. When our East African students said they wanted to correspond with young women in other countries, these are the groups I thought of first.
Teens are absolutely and beyond a doubt my favorite group of people. I don’t care if they are the dutiful ones, the quiet ones, the boisterous ones or the ones that can’t look you in the eye without glaring. For me, teens are the clearest barometer of how things are really going in our world. They notice the stuff that younger children still (thankfully) screen out by instinct. They see the things that adults have learned to screen out by experience. And in failing to screen out all of that stuff, they notice a lot that the rest of us don’t. Of course, that does not mean it’s easy to get them to tell you about it; often it’s easier to get them to talk to one another.
This year, I asked some of our scholars in East Africa what their ideas were for fighting aids, reducing teen pregnancy, improving working conditions in their areas and increasing the number of women who finish high school. You will see more about their answers on the website soon, but suffice to say that they had sound ideas. Our teen girls here are no different. We hope that by facilitating a conversation–starting with written correspondence and moving to photos, video clips and video chat–we can foster an international discussion that is only going to become more necessary over the coming years. And, if we don’t always see what they see, maybe we can at least show them that we’re rooting for them all.
More details about our collaboration in Boston will become available in January when everyone (on both continents) heads back from the school break.