Global Empowerment and Outreach (GEO) reached unprecedented levels with its efforts during its week-long focus from April 6-10 on United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2, Universal Primary Education. After raising over $14,000 in its fight against poverty in the fall, GEO concentrated its efforts on activism this spring. Over 200 students signed a petition created by GEO supporting Education for All, an act that aims to bolster the U.S.’s involvement in the international effort to provide all children with a quality basic education. A group of students – GEO president David Kastelman, Gr. 12 and members Shefali Netke, Gr. 11, Ariel Fishman, Gr. 11 and Katie Forsberg, Gr. 10 – met with U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren to present her with the petition.
Fishman was inspired by the trip. “I thought she was very friendly and helpful in letting us know what we could do to ensure provisions for worldwide primary education in the Foreign Relations Act,” she said. “Representative Lofgren also loved that we were high school students taking an active interest in a cause and I would encourage other students who are passionate about various issues to meet with her in order to find out what they can do to change things. She made me feel like we, a couple of high school students, really did have the power to change the world.”
“When we asked Representative Lofgren about steps Congress can take to promote universal access to education, she suggested the ongoing task of rewriting America’s Foreign Assistance Act,” said Kastelman. “The act hasn’t been reformed in decades, and it essentially governs America’s international aid, and there has been talk of incorporating the MDG’s into the act,” he explained. “She also said that if we got her another petition on this matter of reforming the Assistance act, she could hand deliver it to Howard Berman, the representative heading efforts to rewrite the act.”
A new petition was promptly constructed and was put up for signing on May 4. Over 100 Harker students had added their signatures before it was presented to Lofgren two weeks later.