This February, UNICEFâ€™s first Global Citizenship Fellows are graduating after a year of service on behalf of UNICEF. Global Citizenship Fellows work as grassroots spokespersons for children, inspiring communities to act on behalf of children around the world. As the first group of fellows graduates, they look back at some of the highlights of their year. Mandy Sharp Eizinger is the 2012 Global Citizenship Fellow in the Midwest Regional Office.
Last September, I eagerly entered the hallways of Cesar Chavez Middle School on Chicagoâ€™s southwest side, ready to meet 25 new Citizen Schools students. Citizen Schools is a nonprofit organization that extends the school day with hands-on lessons in Chicagoâ€™s public schools. The students I was about to meet had chosen UNICEF: Be the Change as their ten-week Citizen Schools apprenticeship. As a U.S. Fund for UNICEF Global Citizenship Fellow, I had volunteered to be a Citizen Teacher, to teach students about UNICEFâ€™s work and empower them to take local and global action for children.
The ten weeks passed quickly as I watched the students gain vast knowledge on global issues ranging from world hunger and gender equality to the world water crisis, access to education, and child protection. Each week, students became more confident in discussing UNICEF and the rights of children around the worldâ€”and in knowing they can be part of the ZERO movement as active global citizens.
In our gender equality and education workshop, students were shocked to learn that more than 65 million children around the world lack access to education. Students were especially sensitive to the plight of women and girls.
â€śItâ€™s not fair that in some parts of the world, girls cannot go to school,â€ť one seventh-grade boy exclaimed. Others nodded in frustration, and asked what they can do to take action.
Just a week earlier, the world learned of the cruel shooting in Pakistan of a 14-year-old advocate for girlsâ€™ education, Malala Yousafzai. The students were very moved by Malalaâ€™s story of survival. Here was a girl, similar in age, whose voice was so powerful that it echoed around the world. The students asked for updates on Malalaâ€™s condition each week of our apprenticeship, and they still stand with Malala on the rights of all children to have access to education.
The apprenticeship culminated with an eagerly anticipated showcase of studentsâ€™ knowledge and passion for UNICEF. For their Citizen Schools â€śWOW!â€ť presentation, the 25 students wrote and starred in an awareness-building video about global citizenship and UNICEFâ€™s message of child survival.
As I reflect on each studentâ€™s growth and passion for UNICEFâ€™s mission, I believe more than ever in the U.S. Fund for UNICEFâ€™s domestic grassroots engagement. With the help of TeachUNICEF, generous donors, Global Citizenship Fellows, and many others, we are generating a movement of active global citizensâ€”and are moving toward ZERO.
You can view and share the Chavez studentsâ€™ global awareness video on YouTube.
Mandy Sharp Eizinger is the Global Citizenship Fellow in the Midwest Regional Office. Mandy created a 10-week workshop on UNICEF and the Millennium Development Goals to educate middle school students on global child survival. Prior to joining the U.S. Fund she graduated with a master of science in Public Service Management from DePaul University. She presented her thesis, The Global Philanthropist: A Qualitative Donor Analysis of International Giving, at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action Conference in November 2010. Mandy studied abroad in Kenya and Greece and was active in Alternative Spring Break at Michigan State University, where she focused her studies on child and family development and nonprofit public relations. She enjoys volunteering, traveling, yoga and exploring Chicago.