When asked if we could highlight her involvement with Girls Education Collaborative for our It Takes a Village series, Patricia Minter-Powell’s immediate response was, “Sure, I heard the cats!” While that might be true, Patricia does it with love, enthusiasm, and a keen eye on the mission.
By day, Patricia is a french teacher at the Immaculate Heart Central School in Watertown, New York, and in her off-hours, she serves on GEC’s Circle of Advisors, our new advisory board. Through her dedication and passion to GEC she has managed to fundraise and spread awareness while facilitating a strong connection between her own students and the students at Kitenga Girls Secondary School. Having visited Kitenga 4 times, she has first-hand knowledge of how the school operates and has been a valuable resource when it comes to educational thought partnership. We sat down with her to learn more about what drives her to be such a GEC champion.
Why do you support GEC?
At my school, I run the service initiative called Global Initiative, where we educate students on issues outside the US. In 2016, I learned about GEC through my daughter and as soon as I heard about it I said “YES this is it!” My young students have big hearts and are really invested in this, they can feel what they are doing is making a difference on this very concrete and very real level. It’s amazing for them to see how they can help change a person’s life. During COVID-19 we were able to raise so many funds, from the Kitenga 5K, to car washes and dodgeball tournaments.
The other thing I love about this project is that we may think we’re doing all this to support girls education and lift them up but equally, we’re the ones being lifted and inspired.
What motivates you to stay involved?
I’ll never forget, it was my second trip and we had brought about 100 new books for the library, which at the time had about 20 books. We were going to start bringing them in and we thought ‘Oh, no, let’s let the girls bring them in and put them on the shelves.’ So, the girls are bringing in armloads of books, and they start setting them on the table, not putting them on the shelves. As soon as they put the stack down they opened up the book on top and started reading. The educator inside of me will never forget it.
Those girls in Kitenga, I just love them! I’ve been to Kitenga several times and they send me letters, they’re so sweet.
Why is girls’ education important to you?
Countries are losing out on an amazing resource, girls; until we provide quality education for all young women, countries will not be able to rise or to reach their full potential. Educating girls, it’s like throwing a pebble in the pond, the ripple effect is wide. Those young women deserve to be educated just like the young men in their country.
At GEC we believe it does take a village to make long-lasting change in our world. It is when we join together across boundaries, cultures, socioeconomic stratas and life experiences to work together towards a common vision for the world—that is where the world becomes a better place. If you’re interested in joining our village, drop us a note.