Teach for India-Gender Equality

During August I returned to the Kilbil Junior High School in Janwadi, Pune, to resume volunteering with a class of fifty seventh graders at the school. Upon my return, I was greeted with many hugs and many kids excitedly asking “Do you remember me, didi?”. I was so lucky to be able to continue building my relationship with these kids.
Instead of helping with miscellaneous tasks, I decided to focus my work with the kids on a project about gender equality. We began our project with some powerpoints that taught the kids the basics, like “What is gender equality?”, “What is feminism?”, etc. After laying the groundwork for our conversations, we went on to do activities exploring gender-based pressures/norms, watch a documentary, and write poems surounding gender equality over the course of three weeks.
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Hearing the kids’ thoughts on gender inequality and how we can achieve equality was inspiring. Despite the fact that many of the young girls in that classroom face severe gender-based oppression, they were are able to dream of a world in which they were treated equally, and come up with ways to reach that dream.
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I will always cherish my experience at Kilbil and the kids that I’ve gotten to know there. The sentence “educating girls is the single most effective way eradicate extreme poverty” has popped up many times in my life during the last few years. Now, after interacting with girls and boys that are going to break the cycle of poverty, I am convincedthat this statistic-based claim is reality.

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UN Conference on Human Rights

This past December, I attended the United Nations Conference on Human Rights with 15 other Friends students and others from schools across the nation, and even some schools in other countries.

During the conference, we explored many different human rights issues, such as girls’ education, environmental sustainability, and child mortality. The conference provided each of the students in attendance with a greater knowledge of human rights issues and how the UN and organizations such as Amnesty International work to eradicate these problems. After being supplied with a solid foundation of knowledge regarding these issues, we broke up into focused groups to work on proposals.

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I believe that educating students on human rights issues that face the world today is extremely important because we are capable of being active catalysts for change in our community and in the world if given the tools to succeed.

This conference allowed me to explore my interest in the human rights issue of girls’ education and to collaborate with others who share similar interests and goals.

The GO Project

This October, I began volunteering with the GO Project. The GO Project strives to “shape the futures of low-income New York City public school children by providing critical academic, social and emotional support starting in the early elementary years. GO provides year-round educational and family support services to children who are performing below grade level and equips them with the confidence and skills needed to succeed at school, at home and in life”. During the summer, GO School operates 5 days a week from 9-5, providing not only educational enrichment, but arts, technology, and PE classes as well. During the school year, GO provides Saturday school. At GO school we have “two and half hours of intensive lessons designed to empower each student as they build essential skills in reading, writing and math”.

By housing GO school/summer in various private schools in Lower Manhattan (including our own), GO works to bridge the gap between students with ample resources and the students without and provide educational equity.

Volunteering at GO has been an amazing experience for me. Building personal connections with my class, 1C, has taught me a lot about learning and the struggles that come along with it even at the young ages of 5 and 6. During GO Saturdays, I have made some very cute, very bright little friends whom I’ll continue to skip the extra hours of Saturday morning sleep for.

So if you like kids, educational equity & social justice, graham crackers & pretzels, and service hours, join GO!

If you’re at all interested in GO, but aren’t ready to commit, feel free to email me (16mehta@friendsseminary.org), Leitzel (lschoen@friendsseminary), or Olivia Nuñez (onunez@goprojectnyc.org), director of community engagement at GO.

http://www.goprojectnyc.org/index.php

🙂