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Empowering Girls to Explore What's Possible: 10 Students to Attend a Global Forum for Women  10/20/2015

The air is buzzing with excitement as ten young women prepare for an adventure that will introduce them to entrepreneurs from around the world. Tomorrow, the students will travel to Washington, DC for the International Alliance for Women (TIAW) Global Forum & World of Difference Awards October 21-23rd. There, they will learn about transformational leadership, economic empowerment, and how the economic landscape is changing for women across the globe. The girls will have the opportunity to meet and learn from women who are making exceptional contributions in many sectors and industries.

The students, all young women, were selected for this honor by Mrs. Laurie Douglass, a tutor and coach at Saint James. Douglass’ grandmother, Mandy Goetze is a founding member of TIAW. Douglass has attended TIAW conferences since she was in college.

The global organization, now in its 35th year, includes members from six continents. Members are dedicated to the economic empowerment and advancement of women throughout the world. Through programs such as micro-lending, corporate and non-profit board membership, and the mentoring of young girls and teens, TIAW members “are coming together to make a real difference in the world,” according to the organization’s website.

“I am consistently awestruck by the accomplishments, intelligence, and genuineness of the women in attendance,” noted Douglass. Her daughter Tessa ‘19, now attends TIAW forums; and, Douglass is eager to involve other young women in the organization’s annual global forum. “I want it for the girls I teach, and the girls I coach. The TIAW has been a gift in my life. I’m so excited to be able to share that gift with the next generation of leaders—to expose them to women on the front lines, women who are changing the world in a million different ways,” she continued.

Douglass’ passion is contagious. A total of 19 young women competed for the opportunity to attend, completing an application that included an essay about why they were interested and what made them a good candidate.

“My propensity for being interested in women’s rights and their concerns began from my childhood,” wrote Melinda Kan-Dapaah ’16 who is from Ghana. “This is because I was brought up mostly by my single mother and grandmother who have proved to me that super women truly exist.” Kan-Dapaah’s mother runs a non-governmental organization that provides leadership training and assistance to women in Ghana.

Other students, including Maxine Adjei-Dadson ‘17 and Jennifer Lu ‘17 hope to, as Dadson wrote, “gain an insider’s perspective on the nature of female entrepreneurship.” The other winning candidates who will attend the conference are: Shirley Mao ‘18, Ginny Duan ‘18, Arianna Gao ’20, Elizabeth Worth ’18, Kristen Deiner ’16, Grace Kang ’16 and Tessa Douglass ’19. The participants, including Mrs. Douglass (far rt.) and her sister (far left)  are shown here (except for Deiner).

Kang, a Korean student, had a more personal reason for attending, as she explained in a particularly poignant essay: “This is who I really am: a girl who jumps around everywhere and cannot keep subservient. I want to discover new interests and culture in the world. I want to challenge the conventions and follow my heart. I want to be a leader to save those disheartened spirits and open up opportunities to have passion in life….Specifically through this program, I would like to learn about the achievements and effort of women artists in America and in the world that I can look up to and follow the path to become a proud female artist.”

The students will have the opportunity to attend a welcome reception at the Canadian Embassy, and panel discussions and sessions on topics such as transformational leadership and economic empowerment. They will also volunteer at the event, assisting event committee members with logistical tasks in return for service learning hours that will help satisfy their graduation requirements.

Mrs. Douglass and the student participants will report on the event through the School’s Instagram account. Stay tuned for more information on the conference, and more on the girls’ experiences as they document the TIAW from their unique perspective(s).

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