Harker’s Global Empowerment Organization (GEO) wound up a week-long program to raise awareness of global primary education in mid-April.
The second of two programs about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) this year, this program included a speaker’s forum, a simulation exercise, a phone-in to President Barack Obama’s office and a petition. The phone-in and petition urged lawmakers’ support of the Fast Track Initiative and the Education for All Act – two Measures which target providing access to education for all children. Earlier this year, GEO targeted the MDG to eliminate poverty and raised $14,000 to build a school in rural China (Harker News, Dec. ’08, p. 25).
“One of the novel parts of the week was the focus on activism,” said senior David Kastelman, GEO president. The club’s adoption of MDG 2 “fit particularly well with our plan to focus on education and activism in the spring, as there has been past legislation supporting universal primary education,” he explained. “And the message of students advocating for students resonates particularly well.” The speaker’s forum featured four experts with direct concerns to global education: Kim Plewes of Free the Children; John Tupper, a lobbyist who works to advance such issues in the U.S. Congress; Jennifer Getz, founder of the Africa-based eduWeavers, and Mark McKenna, associate director of San Jose State University’s Global Studies Program. Kastelman acted as host and facilitator of the presentation to the US student body.
The Wednesday long lunch featured a simulation exercise on Rosenthal Field in which students moved from station to station and participated in brief activities which “ranged from throwing a coin in a ‘government budget’ cup to being timed on an obstacle course that represented the transportation obstacles for students in foreign countries,” said junior Christine Trinh, GEO secretary. “They were competitive and offered a challenge, which are aspects that definitely drive Harker students.”
“I loved the enthusiasm and spirit of the students who participated in the simulation,” said GEO member Josephine Chen, Gr. 10. “Many started competing with their friends to see who would win each of the activities.” Chef Steve Martin helped enhance participation in the simulation by serving lunch outdoors and approximately 70 students took part. The week culminated with a rousing Multicultural Assembly (see below). Kastelman, along with the GEO activism committee, met with U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren on April 16 and hand-delivered their petition – signed by over 200 students and faculty.