Category Archives: WorldLink

WorldLink Youth Help Design Murals on Anti-Islamophobia

The mural to be donated to NCIF in Carlsbad

The mural to be donated to NCIF in Carlsbad

By WorldLink Intern Durana Saydee, Kearny High School

For the third consecutive year, WorldLink youth leaders are designing and overseeing its Spring Youth Initiative — a group of dedicated high school students, including myself, from San Diego and Baja Mexico who are making a conscious effort toward converting globally focused dialogues into service-based action projects.

Building on WorldLink’s 19th Annual Youth Town Meeting, “Youth’s Influence on the World: For Better or Worse,” the Spring Youth Initiative seeks to further the positive influences young people are having on today’s world.

With hopes of identifying and supporting a local youth-led organization and its mission, we reached out to Hands of Peace (HOP) San Diego, “an interfaith organization developing peacebuilding and leadership skills in Israeli, Palestinian and American teens through the power of dialogue and personal relationships.”

February 27 marked the Spring Youth Initiative’s first event! WorldLink students participated in HOP’s event at the Muramid Mural Museum and Art Center to create murals that embodied concepts of peacebuilding, understanding and anti-Islamophobia.

We arrived at 1 p.m. and introduced ourselves, providing us the opportunity to meet and connect with students from all over the San Diego region. The goal was to produce two murals that would later be donated to the North County Islamic Foundation (NCIF) in Carlsbad, Calif. and a refugee camp in Greece. Immediately, we began to brainstorm on potential ideas for what we would like represented.

The first mural, to be presented to NCIF, included an image of a person with a series of words either leaving or entering their mind. Harmful words, such as misunderstanding, hate, ignorance and stereotypes were depicted to be exiting the person’s mind. Juxtaposed were words such as compassion, tolerance and equality entering the mind. The idea behind this piece of art is that many people, of different ages, associate negative feelings to the mention of words such as “Islam” or “Muslim.” Instead, we as a society need to fill our minds with positive and compassionate narratives.

The second mural will be shared with a refugee camp in Greece. Participating youth designed a series of overlapping circles of different colors with youth’s hands drawn throughout the painting. This mural was based on the theme of unity, which was evident through the expression of intertwining hands. It solidified the idea that while we are different we are also similar, which was expressed through the circles and changing colors similar to that of a Venn diagram.

The mural on the right is headed to a refugee camp in Greece

The mural on the right is headed to a refugee camp in Greece

HOP students and staff were incredibly warm and inviting. We seamlessly came together as a collective, finishing both of our murals in one afternoon. This wonderful volunteer opportunity gave us a chance to express our feelings about pressing topics, such as ignorance and discrimination, and allowed our ideas to come to life through the form of artistic, peaceful expression.


Living Below the Poverty Line to Help Eradicate Global Poverty

By WorldLink Intern Renata Del Riego, High Tech High Chula Vista

Approximately 1.2 billion people worldwide currently live in extreme poverty. That is nearly 3.75 times the population of the United States living everyday in these severe and rampant conditions. There are a vast variety of global organizations and initiatives that are presently working against food insecurity, acute famine, and extreme poverty. One of these initiatives is Live Below the Line, an annual anti-poverty campaign that raises awareness through challenging its participants to live below the poverty line for five days. Additionally, each participant who takes the challenge has the option to choose a global organization that they would like to raise funds for. I chose to fundraise for the Global Poverty Project, which aims to end extreme poverty by 2030.

When I heard about this amazing campaign I was excited about being able to fundraise for a cause as big and important as this one, but later on when I found out about the five-day challenge, I knew I definitely wanted to get more involved. The instructions for the challenge were fairly simple:

1. You have a total of $7.50 to buy the ingredients for all of your meals for 5 days.
2. You cannot grab a snack from the pantry unless you count the cost of the item within your budget.
3. For items such as salt and pepper simply work out the cost of each item per ounce, and budget your shopping proportionally.
4. You can use food from your garden as long as you account for the price of production.
5. You cannot accept donated food from others.
6. You can count tap water as being free.

I did my research, thought of recipes, and told my parents about my endeavor. Of course, they were terrified because they thought I was going to faint out of hunger. I tried to explain to them that I was aware of the possibilities of hunger pangs, lightheadedness, dull thinking, moodiness, difficulty to focus at school, boredom of the food, etc. I knew it was going to be a hard process, but I had the lucid certainty that I wanted to undertake this challenge to contribute to the cause.

The night before beginning the challenge, I went grocery shopping with the limited amount of money I was allowed to spend. Instinctively, I walked towards the fruit and vegetables section only to realize that there was no way I could afford fresh foods. Disappointed, I directed my shopping cart to the “pantry” aisle, and I knew I had found the right place. I ended up buying one bag of white rice, one bag of black beans, half a gallon of milk, a couple of potatoes, oatmeal, and a bag of corn tortillas. As an indulgence, I also bought three bananas and an orange.


Day One: The first day wasn’t very hard. For breakfast I ate half a cup of cereal ($0.19) with a cup of milk ($0.17). I didn’t take lunch to school, which was the hardest part of the whole challenge, since I’m used to eating 4-5 times a day. Once I got home, I had a serving of white rice ($0.18) and two servings of black beans ($0.30). Before going to bed, I had one banana ($0.12), a cup of milk ($0.17), and two boiled potatoes ($0.24). My food for Day One came out to $1.37.

Day Three: My meals began to get repetitive since the recipes didn’t vary much. However, it wasn’t until Day Three that I started to feel the effects of hunger. The third day of the challenge happened to be the day I was taking a very important test, and I realized something was wrong because I couldn’t answer the questions with ease. I had to read each question 3-4 times before understanding what it was asking, but after I did, I didn’t really know how to solve it. Additionally, I had really intense headaches throughout the day and felt as if I was about to faint. Although these effects made it hard for me to perform well in school, there was a sense of satisfaction in that pain and frustration. I knew that what I was doing was part of a bigger purpose, and that I still wasn’t feeling half the hunger others face in the world.

Later this day, I was sitting with my friends at lunch. Not only did they have what appeared to be an obscene amount of food, but they were also playing with their food. They threw apples at one other and threw away their bags of chips that were only halfway done. I was about to say something when a friend of mine intervened. She said, “Let’s not play with our food like that. There are kids in Africa who are starving!” While my friend’s comment was true, what she didn’t realize was that her words also described kids in New York, Los Angeles, and even San Diego. We appear to be indifferent to the fact that 1 in every 6 Americans faces hunger, even kids at our local schools, including myself. It dawned on me that we often don’t realize that our actions can impact and affect people who are very close to us, even if they don’t appear to be going through hardships.

Day Four: Another very powerful realization came to me during a bake sale after school. These school fundraisers tend to be relatively inexpensive. However, looking at it through the poverty lens, it becomes completely disproportional. A friend asked me if I wanted to buy a cookie for $0.50, and while normally I would consider that amount to be extremely cheap, it constituted one third of my daily budget. I started to look at the way in which we spend our money, and how subjective the words “cheap” and “expensive” are.

Renata_2My five days of “living below the line” taught me how hard it is to not have enough to eat
and to not have the option of choosing a healthy and balanced meal. It taught me that even if something appears to be inexpensive, it could be a whole family’s weekly income. Thus, we must be responsible about the way in which we use our resources. While I feel proud of myself for having been a part of this noble challenge, I understand that those who actually live below the poverty line have no other choice. Unlike me, they do not have the option to stop the challenge after five days, which is why I think that empathizing and putting myself in other people’s shoes is the least I can do to hopefully raise awareness about extreme poverty and inequality. It is our responsibility as global citizens to ensure that people who are living in acute famine thrive, and not just survive. Gandhi said that “Poverty is the worst form of violence,” and after experiencing these tremendously transformative and powerful five days, I definitely agree.

To access Renata’s Live Below the Line fundraiser profile, visit:

WorldLink Student Reflects on Teen Gender Equity Conference

By WorldLink journalist Terra Giddens, University City High School

The Teen Gender Equity Conference at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ) was an unforgettable and perspective-altering experience. Open only to high school students, the conference focused on three important issues: human trafficking, pay equity and sexual assault. It was a collaborative event hosted by the IPJ’s WorldLink program, Girls Give Back of Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Only With Consent and Run Women Run!


More than 60 high school students addressed three pressing issues: pay equity, human trafficking, and sexual assault issues.

When I first arrived at the conference, I didn’t expect such an intense three hours. Although the facts that were shared were heartbreaking, they were realistic and I was truly motivated to make a difference. Guest speakers did not hesitate to provide all of the necessary information in order for us to make positive changes. Their goal was to create a drive within the audience to make an impact, and overall they succeeded.

For the first hour, we had the option to attend an Educational Breakout Session focused on human trafficking or pay equity. I selected the session on human trafficking led by Crystal Anthony, a clinical social worker who specializes in human trafficking. She immediately dove into the wounds and root causes of child labor and sexual exploitation, and shared with us a video called “America’s Daughters” that exposes the pain of trafficking victims. The cruelty of trafficking was illustrated in the video when a victim was described as a “walking corpse stained with the fingerprints of strangers.”

Anthony continued to convey the shocking reality of the situation through interactive activities. For instance, she had us consider real-life scenarios of girls as young as ten years old threatened into prostitution and immigrant children forced into intense labor. It was important to be aware of the fact that trafficking can take place across the border and in crime-ridden neighborhoods, but also in “nice” gated communities throughout San Diego.


Students presented their stance on Assembly Bill 1051 on human trafficking to Katelyn Hailey, from the office of Senator Marty Block.

As we entered the second hour, students proceeded to an Advocacy Breakout Session in either human trafficking or pay equity. I attended the human trafficking advocacy session hosted by Katelyn Hailey, field representative for the office of Senator Marty Block. Hailey shared her views on how an individual can effectively make a difference and took us step-by-step through the process of talking to an elected official.

As a group, we put our purpose into action and worked closely with Hailey in creating a pitch in favor of Assembly Bill 1051, which “proposes to add human trafficking to the list of crimes used to enhance penalties for persons affiliated with a criminal street gang. The bill also creates a ‘safe school zone’ by increasing sentences for convictions related to human trafficking that occur within 1,000 feet of a school.” We derived important points about the assembly bill, and we used our knowledge on how to talk to elected officials to convey our position on the bill. The interactive and instructive atmosphere created during the Advocacy Breakout Sessions encompassed the most positive aspects of the conference. I felt more prepared to face and conquer the issues I am most passionate about.


Representatives from USD’s Women’s Center shared great information and resources at the Teen Gender Equity Conference.

Finally, in the third hour, the entire conference delegation came together for one last interactive session focused on the realities of sexual assault, in particular on college campuses. The speakers, Jasmine Enriquez and Mike Friedman from Only With Consent, shared extremely deep and personal information about how serious these issues are in society. They spoke about real-life situations, therefore sparking awareness within the audience.

Enriquez and Friedman explained the importance of making sure there is consent between both partners before engaging in intimate activities, which helped student delegates possess a new sense of confidence and awareness. The effectiveness of this interactive session was mind-blowing in an incredibly positive way. If everyone in society had the opportunity to participate in similar sessions, we would live in a safer and more trusting world.

The Teen Gender Equity Conference was eye opening and informative, and it made a lasting impact on my life because I was surrounded by teenagers who were serious about the fight for a better future. Debbie Martinez, WorldLink program officer, said that youth participants would have the chance to “develop real plans of action.” These words rung true. I left the conference more passionate about making a difference and determined to create my own plan of action.

“Safe Bags” for Human Trafficking Survivors: Terra Giddens has since initiated a program through which people can donate items for “safe bags,” which are bags that contain items for survivors of human trafficking, such as clothes, blankets, and books. Through coordination with the program STARS (Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success) at San Diego Youth Services, the “safe bags” will be distributed to human trafficking survivors. For more information or to make a donation, email Terra at

WorldLink Intern Learns from the “Grandfather” of Restorative Justice

By WorldLink Intern Alexis Parkhurst, La Jolla Country Day School

AlexisParkhurst and HowardZehr

Alexis Parkhurst heard about the “Three Rs” of restorative justice – Respect, Responsibility and Relationships – from Howard Zehr, known as the grandfather of restorative justice for his pioneering work in the field

Walking into the Diocese of San Diego Pastoral Center for a Restorative Justice Conference in October, I was overwhelmed by the number of people I passed who were genuinely interested in the topic.

I spent this past summer as a WorldLink intern researching restorative justice for the 2015 WorldLink Reader on the theme of “Healing the Wounds of Violence.” But I can honestly say I was not aware of the intricate process prior to my research. Restorative justice is best explained through example, as I quickly learned.

In a simple example, let’s say Tommy steals a cell phone from Billy. Rather than simply punishing Tommy for stealing the phone, a restorative approach means that Tommy and Billy, along with a third party — whether a teacher, friend or trained mediator (depending on the intensity of the crime) — sit down and talk. Billy may ask questions, Tommy may apologize. The goal is that in the end, both walk away with a better understanding of each other and why this happened, resulting in a lower chance of Tommy repeating the crime.

During the conference, I was interested in the composition of the audience. It included those involved with criminal justice and victim/offender reconciliation, families of the incarcerated, and victims of crime.

I had the great pleasure of listening to the “grandfather” of restorative justice, Howard Zehr, who explained the “Three Rs” that are key to restorative dialogues: respect, responsibility and relationships. Through these key principles, restorative justice focuses on the harm that the crime caused, the resulting needs of the victim and the obligations of both parties to “put things right.” Professor Zehr, who wrote the foundational book Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice and is distinguished professor of restorative justice at Eastern Mennonite University, stressed both victim empowerment and that violence is rooted in shame. Although “shame is dangerous, it happens. Shame happens.”

In an extensive lineup of knowledgeable speakers, we also heard from Jack Hamlin, who provided information about Peace It Together, an organization that builds relationships between Israeli and Palestinian youth through filmmaking, dialogue and community engagement. John Stevenson spoke about Beloved Community, a group based on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideas on nonviolence and peacebuilding. As a WorldLink program participant, I had met Mr. Stevenson prior to this event through his work for the Alternatives to Violence project, which he spoke about at the WorldLink Workshop “Annual YTM: Next Steps” (See page 12 of the 2014 WorldLink Newspaper).

The speakers at the conference were remarkable in their perspectives and actions toward a restorative future. Experiencing a multitude of brilliant minds in one location was something I will never forget, and hope to incorporate in my own work.

WorldLink Youth Tour Local IRC Garden

A report by Alexis Parkhurst, La Jolla Country Day School

On April 15, I found myself walking along the busiest street in City Heights — University Avenue — at one of the busiest times of the day. As cars rushed past, I couldn’t imagine that a garden could exist in the middle of this concrete world. I, however, knew the New Roots Garden of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) was immersed in this culturally diverse community, but prior to walking there I didn’t realize how significant this was. The moment the garden came into view, it was a surreal jungle in the midst of a bustling cityscape.

Photo by Christian Iniguez Figueroa, Instituto Mexico Americano Noroeste

Photo by Christian Iniguez Figueroa, Instituto Mexico Americano Noroeste

Our guide, Keegan Oneal of the IRC, led us to the garden. As we passed a lot that was only home to weeds, he pointed out that this was what the New Roots Garden had looked like at one point. The IRC helped turn the unused land into a place for local refugees with no place to grow their own food. People who had been farmers prior to coming to the United States desired a place to resume their cultivation, and the 2.2 acres rapidly filled up. There are currently 83 individual plots in the garden, and a long waiting list for a spot.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the garden was the variety of growing methods. With a mix of farmers from Asia, Africa and Latin America, there truly is a wonderful blend of culture within the garden, reinforced by the proximity of the plots. One moment we walked around heads of lettuce, and the next we went under trees with bananas growing. Then I heard a rooster’s call and faced a chicken coop — with not only chickens, but also two peacocks. The farmers share the animals, and by doing so promote a self-sustaining environment that provides inexpensive resources and helps the land. The area is a USDA certified organic farm, run by the community. Oneal described it as a “community farm.” While in the beginning the IRC helped get the paperwork in order, the farmers have formed a leadership council and now have a more active role in all aspects of its maintenance.

Photo by Afarin Dadkhah, IPJ Intern

Photo by Afarin Dadkhah, IPJ Intern

Recently, the IRC established gardens similar to that in City Heights in other big cities across the United States, including in the Bronx in New York. Although the space in City Heights is limited, the garden is a reminder that land is more than just space. As Oneal noted near the end of our tour, “Each food item that we have has multiple impacts behind it: social, environmental and economic. By growing a garden, whether to feed yourself or to sell at a Farmer’s Market, you can make an impact on those around you, and ultimately the planet.”

Again, I was amazed that such a place could exist in the middle of a city. When I walked under branches and past vegetation, it felt like I was in a remote location, but then the sounds of passing cars brought me back to reality. The idea that an environment such as this could exist peacefully between neighbors prompted me to pay more attention to my surroundings, specifically the different cultures that exist in San Diego. When we walked away from the triangle-shaped jungle, I saw a papaya tree sprouting fruit through the fence. To me, it symbolized the expansion of shared culture throughout the neighborhood — beginning at the New Roots Garden.

WorldLink: Connecting with Fall Interns

There is a flurry of activity every few months when high school students arrive at the IPJ to start the first day of their internships in the WorldLink Program, which connects youth to global affairs. Oftentimes, the students are early, anxious and excited. “I found WorldLink and saw that it was exactly what I was looking for, without even knowing it,” says Nicole Lobo, a junior at Cathedral Catholic High School. “I am extremely passionate about international relations, politics, law and foreign policy, and this internship seemed to be perfect for me!”

WorldLink offers internships for high school students year-round. Interns conduct in-depth research on global topics, strengthen their public speaking and presentation skills, produce publications and designs for the annual Youth Town Meeting, and hear from prominent leaders in global affairs.

This year’s fall interns report that of the leaders they’ve met so far, the 2013 Women PeaceMakers, who met with the interns at a workshop in October, have had the greatest impact on them. Rutuparna Mohanty of India, a lawyer who provides legal protection to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, inspired Nicole in particular. “Domestic violence is a huge problem in our world that is so overlooked in the society we live in… Rutuparna’s talk made me realize that no matter how young I am, I can really make a difference if I am passionate enough about something.”

Freida Aguilar, a junior at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, was moved by the strength shown by Sabiha Husic, a psychotherapist in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “I feel very strongly about the medical and psychological aid women and children need during and after there has been conflict in their area,” says Freida. “I really appreciate and admire what Sabiha is contributing to those affected by war.”
WorldLink is managed by IPJ Program Officer Debbie Martinez. She says, “My favorite part of the high school internship is two-fold: witnessing the growth each student experiences from beginning to end, and the moment each intern realizes that their efforts are not only valued by staff members, but also that they are crucial to the WorldLink Program and the Institute.”

Describing the moment further, she says, “WorldLink high school interns dedicate an entire semester to projects that are pivotal in promoting international awareness, critical thinking and problem-solving among youth worldwide. Each WorldLink intern will reach that moment in their internship when they realize that their efforts and their voice are truly valued in this world, and it is that moment that I cherish.”

Kellie Allen, a sophomore at High Tech High School, is using her graphic design skills to help spread the word on global issues. She is creating the 2014 Youth Town Meeting design that will be used in publications, tote bags and posters throughout the conference. “What we are doing has the potential to make a difference in the world. I enjoy it because as a teenager, it can be hard to find a way to make a difference.”

Another reason why the WorldLink internships are so beneficial is because of its location on a university campus. Nicole notes that “WorldLink’s collegiate environment and extensive resources (the Women PeaceMakers Program, campus events, etc.) help connect you and give you a glimpse of what life in the real world is like.” Freida agrees and says that WorldLink’s is “most likely the best youth internship program offered in San Diego for global affairs.”

WorldLink Intern PhotoTo learn about current USD students sophomore Rayne Ibarra and freshman Catherine Zuñiga-Mata and the WorldLink internship experience that brought them to USD, read this article.

Learn more about the internship program | Youth Town Meeting 2014

Changing Worlds through Media

The following is a reflection by IPJ Program Officer Debbie Martinez, following WorldLink’s 16th Annual Youth Town Meeting and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.


“I believe that the full power of media has yet to be discovered, and we are the generation that is going to discover its fullest potential as a voice for activism and global change” — a bold statement I jotted down on the afternoon of January 24th. The speakers: Marian Dorst, from La Jolla High School, and Isaac Hortiales, from Instituto Mexico Americano Noroeste, as they stood in front of over 700 of their peers from all parts of San Diego and Baja Mexico at WorldLink’s 16th Annual Youth Town Meeting.


The topic of the day was “Changing Worlds: Media’s Power and Influence.” From the newspaper to the Internet, from photography to film, the potential of old and new media took center stage at this year’s WorldLink youth conference at the IPJ.


Zeta reporter Sergio Haro

Later that evening, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Film Festival had its opening night at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts. The festival featured several thought-provoking documentaries, including Reportero, a film that follows the dedicated staff from the Mexico-based newspaper Zeta. Contrary to other local papers, Zeta focuses on exposing the violent realities of oftentimes sensitive and controversial topics, such as the extraordinary rise in organized crime throughout the country. As a result, many Zeta journalists have been targeted and some killed.


As I sat listening to the question-and-answer period with Zeta reporter Sergio Haro following the film, I could not help but think of Marian and Isaac’s message. We are part of this powerful generation, and it is incredible to witness current acts of global education and activism through the use of various media outlets. As Jennifer Gigliotti, a master’s student in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, commented, “I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people that gathered to watch and support these films. It is wonderful to see that these are people educating themselves on the happenings of the world despite the discomfort this awareness can sometimes bring. … These are films everyone needs to see.”


Lt. Elle Helmer at the Vietnam War Memorial, U.S. Marine Corps

Throughout the weekend, the film festival featured other powerful and revealing documentaries, such as the Academy Award-nominated The Invisible War, which exposes the angst and trauma experienced by women in the U.S. armed forces who have survived rape and other forms of sexual violence committed by fellow service members. In the film, many of the brave women who came forward were met with an overwhelming absence of support and redress from the U.S. Department of Defense. In several cases, the perpetrators were not investigated or convicted, and many continued to rise through the military ranks.


Afarin Dadkhah Tehrani, another master’s student in the school, expressed, “It was an emotionally intense experience. I was both frustrated and heartbroken about what these women had gone through, and how it had severely affected their lives forever. … The documentary was very eye-opening for me personally in terms of the gravity of gender issues and the integration of gender-sensitive lenses in the development of peace.”


Echoing Afarin, watching the film was a difficult experience in itself. However, its impact was multiplied as members of the audience, including former and current servicemen and women, initiated a powerful debate about the “epidemic of rape” within the U.S. military. Although some audience members disagreed on specific aspects in the film, it was evident that the documentary successfully brought to light a global concern that often goes unaddressed.


As Marian and Isaac asserted, we are the generation that will utilize media and its strengths to not only educate others and ourselves on global issues, but also exploit its capacity to achieve actual social change and justice in the communities that surround each of us.


The IPJ co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Watch Film Festival in San Diego, which also featured the documentaries Call Me Kuchu, Putin’s Kiss, Salaam Dunk and Brother Number One. To learn more, please visit  

Program Officer Karla Alvarez Reports from Kenya

Alvarez is program officer for the IPJ’s WorldLink Program.


Karibu! Hello, my name is Mercy. Welcome to Daraja.”


Then came Faith, Joan, Molly, Everlyn, Hadija … until 77 warm hugs and bright smiles greeted me and the delegation of USD students and staff to the Daraja Academy in Nanyuki, Kenya. In partnership with USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), the IPJ’s WorldLink Program was invited to lead a series of workshops on leadership, gender, school success and global education at the secondary school.


Daraja, Swahili for “bridge,” was founded by educator and USD and WorldLink alum Jason Doherty, who wanted to provide an education for girls with limited means in Kenya. Three years ago, he and his wife Jenni selected the first 26 academically accomplished girls from across Kenya to comprise Form 1, the equivalent of freshman level in high school. Now, the campus thrives with 77 girls and 11 dedicated teachers.


It takes only a few hours to understand why these young women are referred to as WISH – Women of Integrity, Strength and Hope. Many of the Daraja students come from broken homes and extreme poverty. Were it not for Daraja’s free high school education – including meals, school supplies and room and board – they would likely remain in their hometowns not attending school and forced to work.


“There is a real hunger for education here,” shares one of the teachers. And it is visible everywhere on campus. A highly structured schedule means the girls begin with daily chores at 6 a.m., followed by breakfast at 7 and school for eight hours. An hour is provided for physical activity, followed by dinner and three hours of study hall. By 10 p.m., lights are turned off and the students return to their dorms.


Despite the long days, the girls are genuinely appreciative of a Daraja education. They enthusiastically wash clothes by hand, sort beans and clean the dining halls. They do not complain, or yearn for leisure time. Their limited spare time is usually spent studying.


Given Daraja’s goal to support young women’s pursuit of an education, the school provided a platform to continue building on WorldLink’s programmatic expansion. During the month of February, three M.A. students from SOLES worked with me to develop a documentary questionnaire and workshop. We then interviewed 15 Daraja students, learning about their families, values and goals for improving Kenya.


All 77 students then participated in a WorldLink workshop which explored their concerns on various social justice issues. The discussions highlighted frustration and concern over the lack of access to education, especially for young women, and limited job prospects in Kenya. However, the students are also acutely aware of their potential as youth and the role they play in the future of their country. They see education as the most vital step in improving their society and are committed to expanding opportunities for other young people’s education in order to create a wiser, stronger generation of youth to lead Kenya.


In the coming months, the WorldLink Interns will review the footage taken during my time in Kenya to create a documentary highlighting these young women’s stories and dedication to make a difference in their communities. Check the WorldLink page this summer for the video!