Week 5 - So Much Learned....So sad to say Goodbye

As our 2018 program came to an end our scholars felt many mixed emotions.  From excitement to see their family and friends again, so sadness over having to say goodbye to their new Global Girl family.  It was a challenging week, but it was full of gratitude and learning.  Take a listen to what each of our scholars shared about what lessons they will take home with them to their own communities.  The rest of the video is on it's way!

Week 4 and So Much More!!

This week we had our friends from UME Design here to teach our girls how to make their very own magazine! The girls work very hard to be creative and express each of their community action projects into the final project of the Global Girl Project HERZine!!  They were so so excited to see the finished product and it is really amazing!! The PDF of the Zine will be available as a Perk during our upcoming Indiegogo fundraising campaign that will be launched September 18th.  Stay Tuned!! 

Week 3 - 8 Teenagers in the Mountains...and So Many Leeches!!

Fourteen years ago I went on my first trek, 11 days in the Annapurna Region of the Himalayas in Nepal.  I would classify these two weeks as one of the most transformative moments in my lifetime.  I am blessed to have experienced many, but my time in the Himalayas taught me about the transformative power of being pushed well beyond our perceived physical and mental limitations.  It was here, in one of the most beautiful places on earth, that I learned that I can do absolutely anything I choose to do.....I just need to make the choice.

It is for this reason that I knew that I needed to take our 8 aspiring young leaders on their own journey into the mountains and help to introduce them to an even stronger version of themselves. Well the experiment worked.....not without many tears, screams of fear, and downright protests to take one more step up the mountain.

Take a listen here to what they learned about themselves during this journey of growth and you will be humbled (especially near the end), at who they grew into in only three days!! Thank you to Himalaya King Trekking (www.himalayaking.com) and Kathmandu Gear for helping me make this trip a reality!!

Week 2 - I think we have finally settled in!!!

This week our scholars tell you about what they have learned about themselves this week.  Personal reflection is still a challenge for them, but it is a very necessary skill if we are to work with other people.

This week was a very busy one, with the girls going to regular classes with their peers, where they seemed to be much more settled in and making good friends.  This week the girls also completed three more of our Global Girl Leadership workshops and by the end of the week each of them had decided on their individual community development projects!! Stay tuned to hear more about what they will be doing to change their communities when they get back home!!

Lastly, this week we held a group discussion workshop with the year 9 and 10 girls from our partner school and the discussions blew me away! They talked about gender stereotypes, about how they are viewed as impure when they have their periods, and so many other very important topics.  We ended the week by volunteering a local orphanage by helping them to clean their new home!! I was so proud of each of our scholars for working really hard to make a difference!!

Take a listen straight through to the end, if you need a little heart warming....

Through Pure Determination and Team Work...Our 8 Scholars have Arrived in Kathmandu!!!

Breathing a sigh of relief is an enormous understatement of how I feel right now.  We are a week into our 5-week 2018 Leadership Training and Cultural Exchange with our 8 global scholars, and it all seems surreal at times.

The lead up to this program has been something for which none of us were fully prepared, this being our first exchange in Nepal.  The past three years of exchanges have taken place in Los Angeles and so we could only guess at the obstacles or challenges that may jump into our path leading up to our 2018 exchange in Kathmandu, Nepal.  This is also our first year partnering with Sierra Leone Rising, the NGO located in Bumpe Sierra Leone and from where our two scholars Isata and Josephine travelled.  I feel like most of us take for granted our ability to decide from where and when we travel and how we get there.  I certainly did prior to this experience.  We don't even know that our ability to cross most borders without harassment and fear, is actually a privilege...but it truly is. Our scholars are from the poorest of countries that all have challenging histories of colonialism, domination, and war.  This history and the color of their skin immediately puts them at risk when they want to travel.  When you add in the fact that they are all young women, well the only assumption that is made by government officials the world over, is that their only value is their sexuality.  

From trying to find flights from Haiti and Sierra Leone to Nepal (which don't actually exist), to attempting to get accurate information on what visas they may need as they traversed the globe, we were met with obstacle, after challenge, after misinformation.  Our girls from Haiti we scheduled to finally pick up their Schengen Visas (for their stopover in Amsterdam), after being denied the first time around, when violent protests erupted in Port-au-Prince and the Embassies were closed!!!  Yes you can't make this stuff up!!! Our Haitian scholars finally received their visas the day before they were set to fly!!!  

Once our scholars took to the sky, for their first times I may add, they then ran into barrier after barrier as each immigration officer they encountered was immediately suspicious of their plans.  Each scholar had letters from Global Girl and our partner school and all of the necessary visas, but still they were only seen for the color of their skin, their gender, and their nationality.  As our Sierra Leonean scholars landed in Ghana, for their first layover, they were stopped by immigration officers and almost thrown out of the airport and into the streets of Accra because they did not believe that the girls could be participating in a leadership training.  We were all so scared for them, but they immediately grew strength they didn't even knew they had and about a minute before their next flight was set to leave immigration let them on the plane.  Thank you to our team in LA, New York, Sierra Leone, and Nepal for calling every Emirates employee we could find, in order to get our girls on their flight!!!

So I hope you can see how, even before they landed in Kathmandu, our scholars were already changing our world, breaking societal norms and expectations.  As they all landed in Kathmandu I cried, I took a deep breath, and knew that what Global Girl Project is doing is now more important than ever.  I knew that this is where true societal change will take root and blossom.

Now the real work begins!!!!!  Stay tuned to this space for weekly video blogs from our scholars.

With Gratitude,

Julia.

Mumbai or bust...An update from our Kranti girls.

IMG_7242.JPG

Rani's Update

After finishing 2months project planning in LA, I was very exited to meet my friend's and Family. I was also exited to work on my project. When I came to India I met all my favorite people's, had my favourite food and also started researching about my project. After researching and reading about my project I figured out, that using Dance as a therapy is very difficult for me. For using dance as a therapy first I have to be trained, so I changed my mind that I will use dance as a happiness. With this new idea I had to start my project planning from the beginning. I thought it will be more difficult for me but when I started planning things, I find out easy. After sometimes I understood that because I had 2months experience of project planning in LA now it was easy for me. I'm very happy with my project now. Learning so many new thing. I'm trying my best for this project. I want to thank Kranti and GGP for this wonderful opportunity.

Sumaiya's Update

Global girl has been amazing experience to me. I had great time while studying in star prep academy and staying with host families. I miss all the time which I have spended with them, mostly doggy (milo), he always come into my bedroom and sleep next to me. I had memorable time taking milo!! for a walk, cooking with tery and going for shopping together it was wonderful month. Thank you alot to everyone, for your love and support.

Shraddha's Update

Global girl project thought me so many things and this was my first time to live with host family and they are amazing, whenever I had free time they always took me to art museums because they knows that I love art, I like when Hannah and I made chocolate cake and that was my first time I made cake, I spent good time with them. Thank you so much Julia for this opportunity you gave us. When i came back to India I started my project. Working with NGOs kids and leading to activity by myself it's an amazing experience

A week of bucket showers, zero electricity, and strong-willed young women

I am sitting on a plane heading back to Los Angeles after a month away from home, the first three in London for one job and the last in Sierra Leone for Global Girl Project.  One couldn’t pick two different environments if that was your only goal.  London, the land of everything and everyone, and Sierra Leone, the land of only what you need and not an ounce of excess.  Sierra Leone is our new partner country for our 2018 exchange program.  We are so grateful to be collaborating with The Kposowa Foundation and Sierra Leone Rising, who run a multitude of community development projects in Bumpe.  Bumpe is a small village of 15,000 people and is located about a 5 hour drive north of the capital, Freetown.  Bumpe is what most of you may picture when you imagine a village somewhere on the African continent.  It is a village where most live with no running water and no electricity.  There are a few water pumps that residents access but all seem be in a state of disrepair, leaving residents with unclean drinking water for their families.  From a western perspective there are many things not ok with this situation but what you may not see is the sheer determination and dedication from both its oldest and youngest members to be a part of changing their community for the better.  There is a real feeling and knowing of connection in this small community that you will rarely experience in a large city or perhaps even a smaller town in the West.

 

I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into Bumpe by the head of this Chieftom and his family, and therefore, experience first hand the strength of this community.  I was there to interview 10 girls from Bumpe High School who had applied to Global Girl Project’s 2018 program because they wanted to be a part of making a difference in their community.  Each girl that I chatted with expressed concern about the same three interconnected issues, early marriage, teen pregnancy, and lack of education for girls.  Each young woman wanted to learn how they could truly make a difference within these issues and change the lives of their peers. The two girls that I finally selected for our upcoming program both demonstrated so much passion and excitement to learn to live as role models and change-makers in their communities.  This will be a very challenging path for them both, as neither of them have left their small village, eaten food different from their own, or seen people that look a bit different than them.  But the true challenge will lie in standing out within their community as young women who want to and are working towards something different.  To be different, to be misunderstood can be so difficult, however, both of these girls can rely on the knowing that they are being their most authentic selves and standing up for what they believe to be right and true.  I feel blessed to be a part of this journey with them.

 

Peace,

Julia.

A Letter from one of our 2017 Exchange Students, who will be arriving here on Sunday!!!

To Julia:

Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you so much for giving such a wonderful chance to me.  I'm very excited to join GGP.  I always wanted a chance like this.  I'm feeling very lucky that I will have a chance to help my brothers, sisters and mother.  This is all because of you.  Really, thank you so much Julia for giving this opportunity to me.  I'm very happy because I will have the chance to meet other girls from different countries.  I will learn so many thing from them.  Also i will share my story with them that they should also learn something from me.  I will give my 100% in everything.  Love you so much and once again thank you for what you are doing for Kranti.

From Rani.

Kranti Girls Will Soon Be On Their Way!!!

I have to say that the best Christmas present that I could receive is the knowing that our three exchange scholars from Mumbai, India will be arriving in LA on January 15th, 2017!!!  I can hardly believe that's it's been a year since Thaynara, from Brasil, landed at LAX full of excitement, anxiety, and smiles.  This year has been filled to the brim with planning, trips to select girls, forming new partnerships, and many fundraisers!!!  I want to send out so much gratitude to our extended Global Girl community who have donated your time and your money to help us, once again, be a part of inspiring, empowering, and motivating young women around the world to be change-makers in their own communities.

Our three girls from the organization Kranti (www.kranti-india.org) will be in in the U.S. for 7 weeks where they will attend school at Star Prep Academy and also participate in community development workshops to develop their own socially-minded projects to implement upon their return home.  We have also formed some exciting partnerships with organizations such as Aspire (www.aspirewomen.com), Watts Boys' and Girls' Club (www.wwbgclub.org), and Las Fotos (www.lasfotosproject.org).

Currently, we are still looking for one or two host families in the West LA area, so if you are interested in being a part of this life-changing experience for one of our girls, drop me a line.

Happy Holidays to Everyone and thank you!!

Julia Lynch, Founding Director.

Get to know us & don’t forget to donate!

Regular readers of the GGP Blog have met the organizations founder, Julia Lynch, and the girls who have taken part in the program. Now let’s meet GGP’s board of directors, starting with Mariana Reis, one of our newest additions to the board.

Mariana is an LA-based educator, dancer, performer and social activist, highly versed in Afro-Brazilian culture, music and dance.  She has spent a good part of her career involved and actively participating in non-profit organizations.  She began her involvement in social work and activism in college where, as the President of the Women’s Organization, she helped raise funds for her Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) group to perform at the annual collegiate celebration of underrepresented groups on campus.  From there, she began working with the drum and dance ensemble, Grupo Liberdade as their dance director.  She worked hard to build the organization form the ground up, establish structure and assisted the group in becoming one of the most well-known non-profit organizations in Arizona, dedicated to promoting community, diversity and empowerment.

After several years of her involvement in Afro-Brazilian culture and social work, Mariana decided to delve into the heart and soul of it, relocating to Bahia, Brazil in 2007 to begin her studies in earnest. She would spend the next 6 years studying Afro-Brazilian Dance, specifically Samba Reggae, and she danced professionally with the largest non-profit organization and Bloco Afro Group, Olodum, in Bahia. She, also assisted with developing a non-profit cultural center dedicated to promoting peace, love and joy through the medium of drum and dance.

Some of Mariana’s professional credentials include a Professional Certificate of Dance and a Certificate in Silvestre Technique (an Afro-Brazilian Contemporary Dance technique) from the Cultural Foundation and School of Dance (FUNCEB) in Salvador, Bahia Brazil. She also holds certificates in Contemporary Dance Training from Ethnic Rio de Janeiro ‘Viva Dança’ International Festival in Bahia, Brazil, Contact Improvisation from Balé Teatro Castro Alves, and Capoeira Contact (a mixture of contact improvisation and Capoeira) from Viva Dança International Festival Company in Ladainha, France. She is certified inOríxa Dance from the Cultural Foundation and School of Dance at Bahia, Brazil, and is an Atelier of Contemporary Dance, as studied at the Company Linga in Switzerland.

Mariana has been featured on the Travel Channel with Jaycee Gassett in ‘Dance the World – Brazil’, and is also a Yoga instructor, having completed her training with a Yoga Teacher’s (RYT) certificate from the White Lotus Foundation, Santa Barbara, California. Her core beliefs are of promoting unity, community, non-violence, equality, peace, love and happiness through the performing arts, specifically drum and dance.  When she is not dancing and sharing that life-affirming joy, she enjoys painting, making jewelry, cooking and designing dance and yoga wear in sunny southern California.

Mumbai or bust….. (with a quick hello in Dubai)

Well it may have taken me being stuck in a plane for 16 hours to have the time to sit down and write, but I’m thankful for the forced solitude and lack of life’s distractions. I am on my way to Mumbai to meet with, for the first time in person, Global Girl Project’s newest partners on the path to changing the world one girl at a time. Global Girl is expanding our reach to India and we are collaborating with an amazing organization called Kranti (kranti-india.org), to be able to provide exchange scholarships to some of the most disadvantaged girls in Mumbai. Kranti was started five years ago in an effort to empower and mobilize girls growing up in Mumbai’s red light district, to become agents of change in their own community. The work they are doing, as an organization, is beyond what most can imagine and directly fights against the stigma these girls face daily.

At times, I feel like I am in dream and I need to remind myself to focus, to pay attention….that this is real. And then the stress fades away and is replaced with gratitude for a path that I could never have imagined was available to me. As the founding director of Global Girl Project I have dreamed a dream where people around the world recognize their connections, their ties to each other and in that recognition we reach out to support and teach each other. Through Global Girl Project we are working towards this end and our growth into Southeast Asia, and further across the globe is an adventurous and dedicated leap in this direction.

Keep an eye out for weekly posts from the Global Girl team as we work to connect with you, keep you informed about the progress of our girls, and share useful information about global travel, women’s issues, and how we can all be a part of shifting and changing this world one girl at a time.

Namaste, Obrigada, Mesi, Thank you.

Julia.