Westridge Upper School Students Present Global Initiative Projects at Showcase
On Thursday, Westridge Upper School Global Fellows presented their Global Initiative projects to the community during a showcase including a plethora of nuanced subjects including policies to protect individuals in the disabled community; optimal models in promoting financial empowerment for women; and the suppression of LGBTQ+ stories and the global rise in media censorship. Four seniors who have completed the program will receive a distinction on their diplomas at Commencement.
The Global Initiative program allows Upper School students to create their own interdisciplinary study of a modern-day global issue, which is conducted over two or more years allowing them to truly learn about their topic in-depth. They are required to meet quarterly with their assigned faculty member (on the Global Initiative committee), integrate skills or topics from four of their Westridge courses into the project, and have six “experiences” that ties in with their project such as internships, volunteering, or even their independent Community Action Project (a Westridge graduation requirement).
Simone O. ’23, for example, led a mail art workshop earlier this year and interned with the nonprofit AltaMed Foundation which helps collect and exhibit art throughout its clinics and service sites. Isabella H. ’23 used her Discovery Week trip to Guatemala to inform her project, in which she studied disability policies in youth education in Sweden, Guatemala, and California. While there, she was able to visit MAIA Impact, an all-girls school, and see what services they offer to the school population.
“My project was inspired by watching my brother, who has a disability, experience the education system,” she explained. “I chose to focus on these three countries and regions to study the disparities in the funding for and implementation of policies for youth with disabilities. It was also amazing to get to go to Guatemala and MAIA Impact and actually see some of these issues addressed.”
A partial list of this year’s topics included:
• Culture and Rape: An Analysis of the Divergent Patterns in Sweden and Mozambique
• Disability Youth Policies in Sweden, Guatemala, and California
• Eugenics and Scientific Racism: Examining the Historical and Current Impact on Minorities
• Examining Educational Disparities Between Urban and Rural Areas in China
• Hispanic/LatinX/Other: An Investigation of Identity Politics Within Latine Art
• In Focus: Authentic Oaxacan Food in Los Angeles
• Models of Financial Empowerment for Women Internationally
• Modern Hebrew: A Case Study in Language Revitalization
• A Study of Education Systems: Making Comparisons Across Latin America and the United States
• Suppression of LGBTQ+ Stories: The Global Rise in Media Censorship
“Being a Latina and an educator, it is exciting to see the focus of student projects, some of which highlighted educational access and identity,” said Global Initiative Program Chair and Upper School Spanish Teacher Dr. Jessica Pérez del Toro. “The range of projects is super interesting and so is seeing how students take their interests and passions, delve into research, and take action.”
Next year, Pérez del Toro hopes to introduce a speaker series and continue expanding the opportunities for Westridge students to engage with the global community.
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