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Hopkinton Students Inspire Community to Take Action Around Global Issues

18 January 2013

Mary Ann Brayer and Valerie von Rosenvinge, teachers at Hopkinton High School, participated in Primary Source's Teaching for Global Understanding institute in July 2012. The institute challenged teachers to raise student awareness about five major issues that affect people all across the globe: human rights, the environment, the global economy, health, and peace and conflict resolution.

Bolstered by the challenge and armed with new resources from the institute, Mary Ann and Valerie decided to begin a new initiative at their school called Hopkinton Helping Humanity—a club for students to take action and educate their community about global issues.

Hopkinton Helping Humanity
StudentsThroughout the course of this school year, a group of 10th and 12th graders have been working together to create an educational website for their school, district, and community. Their aim is to raise awareness by providing a range of individual solutions to global problems, and to be leaders in taking action through various fundraising projects throughout the year.

"For me, the Primary Source summer institute forced me to confront my own ignorance on these issues and ignited a passion to make my students aware of the inequities that citizens of the world face in their daily lives," said Valerie. "This has allowed me to move out of a place of feeling powerless and overwhelmed into feeling empowered to make whatever difference I can."

The Malala Project: Raising Money to Send Pakistani Girls to School
The two teachers kicked off the initiative by getting their students involved with The Malala Project, a fundraising effort to support girls' education in Pakistan. Coupling their fundraising efforts with the school drama production of Les Misérables, they raised enough money to send six Pakistani girls to school for a year. "When students saw that even a little effort can make a huge difference in the life of someone else, they became more invested in the project," says Valerie. Read more about students' connection to The Malala Project from the Metrowest Daily News.

Creating an Educational Resource for the Community
Over the summer, Valerie created the website and established templates for pages dedicated to several global issues. On the site, she and Mary Ann have shared with students many of the resources they collected during the Primary Source institute. Throughout the year, students will be responsible for researching issues, potential solutions, and ideas for community action. They will also promote fundraising projects related to the issues they have chosen to research. The site will go live in mid-February.

"It is expected that every Hopkinton High School student participate in activities that expand their citizenship in the school and the community," says Valerie. "We are hoping this site will encourage students to expand their vision to working on projects that are more global in nature and reach beyond the boundaries of what they know."

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