Adelaide Hoodless (Canadian education reformer and Founder of the Women's Institute and the National Council of Women) said it right: "Educate a boy and you educate an individual. Educate a girl and you educate a community." These past two weeks, we were able to catch up with Norma Bajan, the In-Country Director of Starfish. Norma is one of the leaders of Starfish's Foot in the Door program, which seeks to equip Girl Pioneers with invaluable first-job experience while serving their communities. Check out our interview below!
[b]What is Foot in the Door about? [/b]
This program is aimed at our students who are approaching high school graduation and want to gain professional experience.
The reality here is that it is challenging to find formal employment in Guatemala, even if you [i]have [/i]graduated from high school. In this competitive job market, it is the individuals with one to two years of experience that have the advantage.
The objective of this program is to guide and support our Girl Pioneers as they explore, navigate, and become integrated in professional workplace environments for the first time.
[b]What inspired you to start this program?[/b]
We saw the need to give our students more opportunities to develop as professional young adults, and thanks to a number of partnerships that we have formed with other organizations, we’ve been able to create an internship program in which the girls feel comfortable to ask questions, grow, and gain confidence in themselves. The organizations we work with really encourage and empower our students to voice their opinions and to contribute to the team.
[b]How will Starfish’s Girl Pioneers benefit from Foot in the Door?[/b]
In addition to the confidence they gain, this program gives our Girl Pioneers the opportunity to make connections and begin building their own professional networks. And as I mentioned earlier, graduates with experience on their resumes are at a distinct advantage when applying for jobs.
[b]What are your focus priorities for Foot in the Door in 2014?[/b]
--Expanding the number of organizations that we place interns with
--Ensuring that all Starfish grads who are not currently employed are given the opportunity to intern with an organization that interests them
--Supporting our Girl Pioneers so that they are able to transition from interns to salaried employees
--Increasing the budget so that we are able to offer this opportunity to as many girls as possible
[b]What motivates you to keep fighting for formal employment experiences for Starfish’s Girl Pioneers?[/b]
We know that it is through formal employment (whether in the private sector or with the government) that these young women will be able to be the most effective agents of change for our country.
[b]On a personal level, what does education mean to you?[/b]
To me education means a doorway to opportunities:
--The opportunity to access a world of knowledge
--The opportunity to see beyond the horizon
--The opportunity to what we are capable of
--The opportunity to be better citizens of our country and of the world
--The opportunity to free ourselves from whatever holds us back and discover the potential that we have inside
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