Hello! We are Rebecca and Sabrina, two undergraduate students at Georgetown University, and we worked with GOALS Haiti to develop an introductory leadership development workshop. Our interest and understanding of the importance of cultivating community leaders stems from our experience studying international development, education, and social justice in Washington, DC. This partnership supplemented one of GOALS’ initiatives to identify youth leaders and recognize their potential to make change in their communities.
Our program was funded by the Davis Foundation through the 100 Projects for Peace Program. The foundation works with one hundred universities across the United States to fund one student-designed and implemented peacebuilding program per school. Our idea was selected by a panel of Georgetown deans, professors, and professionals, and then put forth to the Foundation for approval. With the close guidance of an advisor from Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice, we began designing the project and collaborating with GOALS to tailor the curriculum to their needs and local context.
In the months prior to travelling to Haiti, we began collaborating with GOALS in setting our mission for the program. In this time, we additionally began drafting lessons that would fit that mission. Once in country, our initial goals were to acclimate to life in Haiti, begin to build relationships in the GOALS communities, and work together to finalize our leadership development program based on the local context. During this time, we visited Bossan, CFC, and Destra, sites where GOALS runs its programming. We also met with James, the country director, throughout the week to modify our program based on his advice and feedback. By the end of the week, we were prepared to effectively finalize and implement the workshop.
For the pilot, our participants were GOALS’ team captains, between the ages of eleven and seventeen, from each of the three communities. From speaking with the different community members, we began to see the potential impact of youth leaders as agents of change in their communities. Youth leaders can create change by exhibiting perseverance in the face of challenges and by inspiring other young people to contribute toward improving their communities. This enforced our understanding of the relevance of leadership training for GOALS’ youth leaders.
Additionally, in order to make the pilot as sustainable as possible, we turned over the teaching of the program to local teachers and GOALS staff. We believe that this helped to bridge the gap between teacher and student, and helped the teachers develop as leaders themselves.
By the end of our pilot, we already began to witness the growth that our students were achieving. Students began exhibiting greater self-confidence and collaboration skills, as evidenced in their final presentations and in our collective reflection lesson. GOALS staff also noted students taking a more significant leading role on the soccer field, showing that the lessons learned transcended the classroom. Our greatest hope is that over time the students continue to internalize these lessons, and grow into greater agents for change and role models in their communities.
We appreciate all our friends and colleagues at GOALS for their support throughout the program and are extremely excited to hear about the future of their leadership development programming!