Algonquin students advocate for universal girls’ education
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – While the right to a free and compulsory primary education without discrimination is recognized as a fundamental human right here in the United States, millions of girls around the world do not have access to education. Last year, believing that the basic human right to an education is worth fighting for, a group of dedicated students at Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) started a local chapter of Girls Learn International (GLI).
“GLI gives American students a voice in the movement for universal girls’ education. GLI pairs American middle and high school-based chapters with Partner Schools in countries where girls have been traditionally denied access to education. The GLI Program gives students the opportunity to explore issues affecting girls in relation to global human rights, promotes cross-cultural understanding and communication, and trains students to be leaders and advocates for positive change,” according to www.girlslearn.net.
Now in its second year, the Algonquin chapter of GLI has been partnered with a school in Cambodia. Under the guidance of Spanish teacher Karla Steele and social studies teacher Gina Johnston, the GLI members have raised money through a variety of fundraisers, including a bake sale and Krispy Kreme fundraiser. The money is sent to the GLI Headquarters, which then sends it to the chapter’s sister school in Cambodia.
According to Steele, “The goal of GLI is to raise awareness of inequity in education around the world and to raise money for our sister school.”
Seniors Kelsey Bourdon and Caroline Muirhead spearheaded Algonquin’s GLI chapter last year and remain active.
“I got involved in GLI because human rights are very important to me,” Muirhead said. “Being involved with GLI means that I care about education. When people think about human rights, most people probably don’t think about attending school. However, I think having access to an education is one of the most important human rights. When someone is educated, she can make a much better life for herself and her family. Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I were born somewhere where I was not allowed to go to school. I am very grateful that I can go to school – but some people can’t.”
Like Muirhead, Bourdon values her education and wants to be an advocate for positive change and a voice in the movement for universal girls’ education.
“I believe education is extremely important and everyone should have access to it. The GLI program opens up an opportunity for the entire school to help girls who have been traditionally denied access to education. We are in contact with the girls at our sister school in Cambodia. We are able to send emails through the Girls Learn International program who then translates the letters and sends them to the girls in Cambodia. If the Cambodian girls choose to send a letter back, it will go through the translators and then to us,” Bourdon explained.
Members of GLI are currently making a quilt to send to Cambodia. All of the girls are making squares, and then Bourdon will be sewing it all together. In addition, preparations for the 2nd Annual Algonquin Regional 5k Road Race are underway. The race will take place at ARHS, 79 Bartlett St., Northborough, Sunday, May 19, at 9 a.m. There will also be a one-mile race and a fun run for kids. Proceeds will help both the students of ARHS with two scholarships and the Girls Learn International educational fund.
“It is great to see young women taking an interest in helping others and particularly equality and women’s issues throughout the world,” Johnston said.
Anyone interested in donating to the 5k is asked to send a check (written out to Algonquin Regional Teachers Association, or ARTA) to: Algonquin Regional 5k, Attn: Gina Johnston, 79 Bartlett St., Northborough, MA 01532
For more information on the Algonquin GLI chapter, contact Gina Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Girls Learn International, visit www.girlslearn.net.
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