The Margin, Ivy Girls Lead, Girls RISE and Harvard Future Lawyers Programme
Two endeavors that I have recently taken up this semester are becoming a member of two new clubs which were formed in the OSC community as a form of outreach towards younger girls in school and the Margin as an established a method of educating the student and teacher body on the treatment of marginalized communities.
The Margin is the first group I joined, in the group, members meet up once each week to explore the misconceptions regarding different different communities of people around the world, we discuss issues ranging from racial inequality to homophobia while we educate ourselves and things such as disabilities in order to reduce the stigma that is felt within any environment in which a member of the student body may encounter. So far, we have met up over 5 times having accomplished setting up a website and earned ourselves a section on the daily bulletin. I even got to take the initiative to create our first ever daily bulletin post about the Afro-Sri Lankans of Puttalam, a forgotten community that have gradually lost their ties to their African roots after integration into Sri Lankan life post colonization after being brought in as slave workers. I chose to submit this post as a part of our Black History Month initiative. This required a fair share of creativity as I had to learn how to use E-maze in order to make my post and learn how to navigate it. Regardless, since, I have contributed to adding to our timeline, attended multiple ted talks, and had valuable discussions with my peers about the prevention of exclusion and the importance of educating oneself on these matters. Needless to say, each of these discussions have been extremely insightful and I am honored to be a part of a group that is capable of contributing so much to the others.
The second group which I recently became a member of is the Girls RISE project, which I may have mentioned in one of my earlier blogposts concerning the IVY GIRLS lead. Admittedly, at the time the project was only an idea, and we were only capable of making it a reality this semester. When joining, I agreed to take on the role of a mentor and although we haven’t gotten to the mentorship stage of the project just yet, we have had the honor of being able to bring in three very accomplished guest speakers who were undoubtedly awe inducing to anyone in attendance. The first, being Tiffany Carothers from Girls Make Waves, Jayanti Kuru-Utumpala, the first Sri Lankan to climb Mount-Everest and our most recent guest, philanthropist Maggie Doyne who who holds a Forbes Award for Excellence in Education among many other renowned accolades including CNN’s hero of the year. Each week I have taken notes on the different stories shared by the guest speaker and am sharing them for later use for when it is my turn to share my wisdom with the girls I will be mentoring, so far, however, the initiative has been amazing and the opportunities granted to us in the process is something I’m eternally grateful for, especially considering that women’s rights is something I have wanted to advocate for since being a little girl, and I am honored that I get to lead by example for the younger students now.
Additionally, I stepped a little out of my comfort zone last week to make a speech during our school assembly, reminding the OSC student body about the work that we have done in the past year and the work that we hope to accomplish in the coming years especially in relation to Girls RISE which happens to be one of the newer initiatives in school. I was a little nervous when Ms. Fleming approached me, but I took it in stride and wrote and delivered the speech the best I could.
Here is a small extract from my announcement:
“Hi, I’m Devanga Silva from DP1 and I am going to be talking to you about a program which several students from OSC took part in over the last few months. IVY Girls Lead was a program that took place from December through March where 25 girls were selected from around Sri Lanka to participate in an intensive 10 day virtual programme and a 3 month service project we had to create ourselves which consisted of multiple opportunities to develop our leadership skills as young women in society. As members of the Ivy Lead, we were able to take part in group discussions, talent-analysis activities and even got the honor of participating in presentations with a powerful panel of female industry leaders that helped us cultivate stronger leadership and business skills while learning more about our interpersonal relationships as well. And we were even featured in a Sunday Times news article. Because of the success of IVY Girls Lead, we decided to create a similar program at OSC which I will be handing over to Miku to tell us more about.”
Lastly, but Certainly not least, my work in these projects, IVY GIRLS, the Margin and girls RISE gave me the boost of confidence to apply for a summer course with Harvard Student Agencies and Learn With Leaders, in an exclusive program which takes in 10 candidates from around the world for a 2 week course on law. Initially when signing up I wasn’t very sure of my chances of making it in, especially considering that the only ways in which they assess your application is through a survey and an interview. Needless to say when time came for met to answer my interview questions (which I wasn’t informed about in the least before hand) I was able to relevantly piece together information and depict my concern for social injustices in a way that had my acceptance letter in my email the very next day! Naturally I am elated and even proud of myself for building this much confidence within the past few months and I am grateful to school for providing me with these amazing opportunities to exercise what I am passionate about. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I can’t wait to see what I learn from it (which will also be very valuable to my further education) but that’s an update for another time! I can’t wait to revisit my experience when I return to DP2.