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From Sag Harbor to South America: Girls Head to Empowerment Seminar

Five East End students will be part of a 30-member delegation to Brazil.

Two Sag Harbor teens will be part of a cross-cultural experience soon as they head to Brazil for a seminar on girls' empowerment.

According to Nancy Lynott, the director of the Southampton Town Youth Bureau — Lynott will be chaperoning the trip on her own time, not in her official town capacity — three girls from Riverhead and two from Sag Harbor have been chosen to participate in the event.

"The purpose of the seminar is to engage youth from around the world to build understanding between countries, increase leadership skills, and prepare girls to be positive agents of change," Lynott said. "The premise is that educating and empowering girls not only achieves better outcomes for them, but for their communities. And cross-cultural understanding leads to better international relationships."

The five local students are part of a 30-member delegation of high school girls who will travel from the United States to join their counterparts from Latin America, Jordan and the Ukraine.

Sag Harbor delegates are Lindsay Cox and Elizabeth Grigonis; Riverhead participants include Jordan Tapley, D'aja Mitchner and Charlotte Palmer.

The seminar is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Brazil and the Brazilian Department of Human Rights, Lynott said; the U.S. Department of State and the Mary Kay Foundation are slated to cover all travel expenses, while the Brazilian government will fund all seminar expenses.

"It's an exciting opportunity for them to have been selected and part of their charge is to share what they've learned in their home community," Lynott said. "These girls are getting a great opportunity to interact with girls and women from all over the world, which will broaden their world view and help them understand that their way of looking at things is not the only way to see them. They will also develop leadership skills and learn about the important roles girls and women can play in making the world a stronger and better place. And how not all the young women in the world have access to the same opportunities that they do."

Lynott said she learned about the seminar through her daughter, Melissa, who works for Partners of the Americas, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that is working with the U.S. Department of State to bring girls from the United States to the conference.  

Lynott was asked to find some teens to participate; she contacted a number of young women and five were selected by the organization to be part of the United States' delegation.

The group will also tour Rio and soak up cultural experiences and traditional food, Lynott said.

Loretta Lynch March 23, 2013 at 03:33 PM
This is wonderful, Congratulations to these young women. Safe trip!
JRW March 23, 2013 at 06:50 PM
What a complete waste of time and money! Sorry, but if we want to develop our teens and empower their abilities to be leaders and more tolerant of other cultural backgrounds, why not send them to Appalachia, or to one or another of our Native American Indian Reservations, or even to one or another of our nation's numerous barrios to work side by side with locals and volunteers from all over as part of a Friends Service Community Rebuilding Project or even a Habitat for Humanity project? Our country needs help... just as it did in the Depression during the 1930's. Let's give these girls and other teens like them an experience that will be rewarding to them; to the people they help; to everyone. But let's stop wasting time and money on boondoggles like this conference in Brazil - the country de jour because of its upcoming role as host of the World Soccer Tournament and the next Summer Olympics.
Hazel Wilkonson the First March 23, 2013 at 09:13 PM
JRW, why don't you go ahead and create just such a program. Until then stop picking on girls who are actually doing something worthwhile.
JRW March 23, 2013 at 10:39 PM
With pleasure Hazel the First... since they already exist: http://www.habitat.org/getinv/volunteer_programs.aspx http://www.americorps.gov/ http://www.globalvolunteers.org/usa/ And when it come to volunteering on American indian Reservations, here is a list of suggested volunteer opportunities on indian reservations for this summer: http://www.globalvolunteers.org/usa/montana_projects.asp Global Volunteers work with the Blackfeet Tribe in Browning, Montana. The Blackfeet people need volunteers to help with construction, maintenance, landscaping, and repairs such as painting and roofing on the reservation in Browning, Montana (near Glacier National Park.) They are a very welcoming group of people who truly appreciate the efforts of Global Volunteers and enjoy teaching volunteers all about their culture. http://www.ipsl.org/programs/lakotanation.html International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership participants live on an American Indian reservation in a homestay with an Indian family during a period of service performing various tasks. An integral part of the program, the homestay offers you the opportunity to make life-long friends and experience the culture from "the inside." The trick is you have to work... not just go to a garden spot and sit in on a meaningless (in terms of achieving anything concrete) conference in Brazil.
JRW March 23, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Further to my previous posting, a few examples of service opportunities on a Lakota or Dakota Reservation are: Being a teacher's aide at an Indian school or Reservation Head Start program working as an advocate at a domestic abuse shelter providing programming at an after-school club for at-risk teens assisting with community and economic development working at a tribal radio station aiding in tribal historic preservation. Your volunteer service immerses you in the culture and deepens your understanding of the society in a way that goes beyond that experienced in classroom study of American Indian culture. http://www.re-member.org/about_content.html RE-MEMBER is a non-profit organization which works with the Oglala Lakota Indians on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. Volunteers comprised of singles, couples,and mission groups (Adult and Youth) from churches, high schools, colleges and corporations join us at our facility on the reservation for a week at a time. Our volunteers have participated in various work projects ranging from transportation of material goods to renovations on homes. In addition to our work projects, volunteers tour the reservation, with stops at the Red Cloud Museum and cemetery, the Wounded Knee Memorial, Singing Horse Trading Post, and the badlands. However, the most important portion of our trips consists of spending time visiting with the Lakota people and learning about their culture and spirituality.

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