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May 8, 2023

Students Engage Experts on Children’s Issues During Collaborative Workshop Series

During its inaugural Children in a World of Challenges Workshop Series, the Collaborative on Global Children's Issues invited the Georgetown community to a week-long series of 12 workshops and events focused on building pathways for resilience for vulnerable children and youth. Many Georgetown students embraced the opportunity to hear directly from experts about pressing issues affecting children globally. Three students offered reflections on the workshops they attended.

Students and experts in discussion at the “The Case for Including Children and Youth in Foreign Assistance" workshop.
Students and experts in discussion at the “The Case for Including Children and Youth in Foreign Assistance" workshop.

Designing Aid Policies to Support Children

Pierina Anton (G'23), a graduate student in the global human development program at the School of Foreign Service, attended a USAID-led workshop on “The Case for Including Children and Youth in Foreign Assistance."

Anton immediately noticed the practical aspect of the workshop, which offered specific skills and insight she could apply to her future career as an Education Foreign Service Officer with USAID.

“The workshop challenged me to think bigger when it comes to designing policies and interventions for children and youth, especially when it comes to changing harmful gender norms that impact the access, affordability, and quality of both childcare and parenting.”

For example, she learned about the importance of building a strong coalition of actors—including mothers, fathers, humanitarian aid providers, development practitioners, childcare institutions, teachers, and more—to protect children in adversity. The importance of prioritizing family-based care over institutional care for children, and how rapid digitalization has increased the risk of digital harm and violence for children and youth, also resonated with her.

Anton credited the workshop with expanding her understanding of the existing policy frameworks, such as the Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity Strategy and Youth in Development policy, that guide USAID programming around the world.

The Power of Play

Christina Ruder (SFS'23), a senior in the School of Foreign Service studying global business, psychology, and Spanish, attended “Healing with Humor: A Physical Workshop on the Power of Play,” led by the Laboratory on Global Performance and Politics.

Students entering the world of children's play in the "Healing with Humor" workshop.
Students entering the world of children's play in the "Healing with Humor" workshop.

The workshop allowed participants to enter the world and language of play that children all speak innately with the goal of being better able to understand and serve them. Ruder gained a new perspective on the large proportion of children in the global population and how they can influence the world. Reflecting on the experience, she pointed out that "children can offer a creative lens to view global issues.”​

Transforming Tragedy into Empowerment

Shreysi Mittal (MSB'23), a senior studying finance and accounting in the McDonough School of Business, attended “Songs and Stories of Adversity and Resilience,” the keynote performance from Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier from South Sudan.

Jal told stories about his unimaginable struggles while also sharing messages of reconciliation and peace with the audience. Mittal was surprised by the juxtaposition of his positive attitude and somber recollection but found it to be empowering.

“It was inspiring to see how an individual can carry such a burden while being a light for others.”

Through participating in the workshop series, Anton, Ruder, and Mittal not only felt inspired by new ways of thinking and understanding the world but excited to learn more. By sponsoring learning opportunities like this, the collaborative will continue to deepen students’ knowledge and prepare them to effectively consider and serve children worldwide, notes Gillian Huebner, the collaborative's executive director. 

As Huebner explains, "It's extraordinary to see what happens when we collectively center and engage young people and work across disciplines and fields of practice. You can feel the energy and joy in collaboration and community-building. It's exactly what we need when we are thinking about how to address the myriad challenges facing children and youth worldwide. It's encouraging to meet so many students who want to dive into this work.​"

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