This post is part of our new Countdown to Conference (C2C) series. We would love to feature a brief blog post from you too! Visit our main Countdown to Conference page for details!
C2C: Raising a Generation of Hope:
Showcasing sisterhood among adolescent girls of color that transcends borders
by Nina Nagib
I am excited to join the GEA community and honored that I get to attend conference during my first year as a Ph.D. student! As a former school counselor, I have always been passionate about working with girls, especially adolescent girls of color regarding worth and identity, including all the internal factors that affect them, both in the US and in the Global South. A few years ago, I watched a documentary that changed my life. Girl Rising chronicles the lives of nine girls from nine different countries and their respective barriers to global education. Watching reporters and activists interviewing the girls in their villages made me think, “I want to be her.” So, I planned to visit Malawi that summer, through a connection at my church, and run a girls’ empowerment program (co-facilitated with their leaders), Rise Malawi: Raising a Generation of Hope (RAGOH), a nonprofit initiative in the rural village of Madisi. While planning for the trip, I took my middle school students to Philadelphia to see Girl Rising. As I was educating them about the human rights issues that many of their global peers face, I saw something click within each of them. I witnessed girls known for getting into fights or skipping class, begin to take ownership of their education and choices. Not only did they begin to see how much they were taking for granted in their lives, but they also became aware of how much their actions, or lack thereof, impacted others. The girls attending the anger management groups at the beginning of the school year were now initiating fundraising projects for their disadvantaged peers! My experience in Malawi was life-changing. Hearing firsthand how child marriage, HIV, poverty, and cultural norms directly impact lives, I knew I would not return the same. I wanted to devote my life to fostering education and raising hope for girls everywhere, from urban communities in the U.S. to the most remote villages across the world. Hence, RAGOH was born. On May 31, 2014, RAGOH became a fiscal sponsorship project of Germantown Life Enrichment Center (GLEC), a 501(c)(3) public charity, which led me to my current situation.
I wanted to devote my life to fostering education and raising hope for girls everywhere, from urban communities in the U.S. to the most remote villages across the world.
The more I learned about girls’ barriers to education in the Global South, the more I began to speculate how centering the experiences and voices of our girls could transform them and their environments. For instance, creating partnerships between my girls in Philly and Malawi could be transformative for both of them. How do we develop a sense of protection in our girls that can act as preventative measures? How do we center the voices of girls of color into our work with them? How do we develop a critical consciousness within them, through which they and the society would see them as the solution, rather than either the recipients of programs or delinquents (both of which are equally dehumanizing, in my opinion)? How do we equip and train educators and schools to develop these factors in our girls? How do we empower and equip them to see the power in their own voices? Pursuing my PhD in Education with a concentration in Counselor Education, my research focuses on restructuring RAGOH as a school-based sex trafficking prevention program for girls of color, grounded in Critical Race Feminism with the development of critical consciousness in our girls.
Adolescent girls of color who have experienced trauma face unique challenges globally in their pursuit of education. As minimal attention is paid to the modern-day slavery crisis of human trafficking and a host of other injustices that girls face globally, I am honored to join GEA in my first year as a Doctoral student. I decided to come from Philadelphia because I knew I wanted to be a part of the global community of scholars committed to fighting these injustices in different ways. I am most excited about learning from every scholar there and building connections, which, undoubtedly, will transform my future research.
I want to focus my career and center my research on answering the questions I have listed above! My poster at the conference will display RAGOH’s core of centering everything we do regarding creating spaces for the existence of the voices of this marginalized group. RAGOH equips teen girls to raise their voices as leaders, advocates girls’ access to education in the Global South, and develops a critical consciousness to view and impact their community and the world. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to stop by my poster, “Raising a Generation of Hope: Showcasing a sisterhood among adolescent girls of color that transcends borders” to see and hear their words for yourself!
In closing, I have never been to London before and plan to stay through June 28th. Any tips or advice on places to stay, visit, or experience would be greatly appreciated!
Looking forward to meeting you all and joining this community of scholarly activities soon!
If you are attending conference, let us know on Twitter using the hashtag: #GEAconf2017