By HADLEY BARNDOLLAR,
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Following an eye-opening summer experience grasping how girls live and learn on the other side of the world, a group of Portsmouth High School students have started a Tanzania Club. The group is intended to maintain their bonds with students at SEGA Girls’ School and pursue fundraising opportunities for education in the East African country.
This July, for the second summer in a row, three teacher chaperones from the Portsmouth School District brought 13 PHS female students on the trip, designed to be a cultural exchange between high schoolers and host students at the school in Morogoro, Tanzania.
SEGA’s main focus is to help Tanzanian girls escape the cycle of poverty that persists in many sub-Saharan African countries, by providing them with quality education focused on female empowerment, skills, and credentials needed to thrive in today’s global economy. Through partnering with SEGA, which is funded by U.S.-based nonprofit Nurturing Minds, Portsmouth High School students gained insight into how girls in other parts of the world are treated, inequities and injustices that exist for women globally, and increased knowledge and acceptance of different cultural perspectives.
Tanzania is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, and has one of the lowest secondary school enrollment rates, as well as one of the highest dropout rates for girls. Only one in four continues past seventh grade, typically resulting in pregnancy in adolescence and young marriage.
“The trip itself offers such a unique opportunity for students to see what the rest of the world lives like, and harsh realities for women in other parts of the world,” said Portsmouth High School teacher Allie McGrimley, one of the trip’s leaders.
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Last week, back on U.S. soil, the high school students who visited Tanzania — and several of their interested peers — convened as a club for the first time, following a successful first fundraiser at Flatbread Company earlier this month. They wrote encouraging and joyous letters to their friends back in Tanzania, asking them how they are and updating them on their lives in New Hampshire.
“It was so heartwarming, I miss them so much,” said junior Angela Hagstrom, who has traveled to Tanzania twice. “They like to tell you everything, and they want to know everything about you.”
McGrimley said the SEGA Girls’ School has a female empowerment-based curriculum, and Portsmouth teachers saw the value in bringing just female students — for cultural comparison and connection reasons.
“You immediately have that bond,” said junior Jane Tucker. “The connection we shared was just so strong. They have very little over there, but they were so grateful. When we left, it was so emotional. Everyone was crying.”
SEGA’s campus offers a guest lodge in which all proceeds go back to supporting the school. While visiting, the Portsmouth students stayed at SEGA for six nights, where they were able to interact with the group of host students and participate in a variety of activities including a school-wide morning assembly, traditional chipati cooking lessons, tie dying, chess lessons, afternoon sports, Swahili lessons, and various icebreaker games.
The school supports more than 270 students, 85% of whom are on full scholarship. McGrimley said the Portsmouth High School group sponsors one student, and funds raised will toward the full cost of her education for the year, as well as general funds to SEGA and Nurturing Minds.
In December, Nurturing Minds will sponsor two Tanzanian students to visit the U.S., where they’ll spend two to three days on the Seacoast.
“No one doesn’t want to go to school there,” Hagstrom said with a chuckle. “They all want to be there.”
“And how little they have, but how thankful they are, too,” Tucker added. “So eye-opening.”
Read from source Portsmouth Herald