While many college students are spending their spring breaks at the beach or logging some quality time with Netflix, a group of Barnard College students is getting the chance to travel around the world to teach high schoolers about what it means to be a leader.
The 12 students selected as Global Symposium Student Fellows will be spending their vacations in Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro or Paris to conduct the Young Women’s Leadership Workshop with teenage girls in each of the three cities.
“I think the college’s push to go global is so important because so many times the idea of women’s leadership stops when we leave the United States,” says Daniella Philipson , a Barnard sophomore who is currently in Paris. “It’s not something that I know of that’s really on every national agenda, so I thought this symposium was an interesting way of doing that.”
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Before the group left for their workshops, they held a version of the workshop for teens from 60 high schools around the tri-state area.
Brainstorming solutions: As part of the local workshop, the roughly 90 high schoolers were divided into groups and asked to think about the issues affecting the world around them. “We thought they’d say something like, ‘Oh, we need more recycling bins’ — which is a great idea,” says Barnard junior Rohini Sengupta , who is part of the group working in Rio. “But they were thinking about how to address victims of sexual harassment and how to help women in politics. They were not afraid to think big.”
Selecting the Fellows: “We’re sending them off to three different countries, so we had to talk to them about what issues they are passionate about and what leadership means to them,” says Jennifer Fondiller, Barnard’s dean of admissions. The students will be traveling with professors conducting research in each of the cities.
Empowering students: “It was really nice to be able to speak to a mature crowd [of teens] and have a good conversation,” says Philipson . “They can see that it doesn’t take long to think about a problem and figure out a solution.” Breaking stereotypes Many of the teens participating in the workshop said they were very aware of the perception that teenagers do not care about important issues.
“I think [that stereotype] is really stupid,” says Olivia Michele, a high schooler from Harlem. “We’re definitely worried about what our future will be.”