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Dec. 2, 2012

Senior wins ANNpower Vital Voices grant

by Janvi Raichura, Online News Editor
On Oct. 22, senior Beemnet Kebede was one of 14 girls in the nation awarded a $1,900 grant through the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative. ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative is a partnership between Ann Taylor and LOFT to empower young women from across the U.S. to affect global progress and invest in their communities.

Senior Beemnet Kebede started an initiative to help foreign students feel more at home here at Blair. Callahan Mayer-Marks
Senior Beemnet Kebede started an initiative to help foreign students feel more at home here at Blair.
Prior to receiving the grant, she participated in the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative leadership training forum in Washington, D.C., from June 4 through 7. To win this grant, Kebede had to write several essays outlining her proposal for the project. She also had to indicate the purpose of her project and outline her spending plan if she won the grant.

Kebede plans to start a peer-to-peer mentoring program at Blair for both foreign-exchange students as well as students who have recently immigrated to the U.S. She also wants to help facilitate parent-teacher conferences for these students and help keep everyone engaged in the students' learning. Kebede plans to have weekly gatherings based on these peer-to-peer exchanges. Kebede is looking to working with girls who have gone through similar situations as incoming foreign students. "I'll be working with other girls who have been through the process of being immigrant kids, and they can help mentor the new participants," Kebede said.

With the Global Culture Club, Kebede will host workshops that will allow students from different backgrounds to come together and learn more about each other and their cultures. These students will serve as Kebede's translators during conferences and informative workshops that Kebede will conduct.

"Language will not be a barrier as we pass on information." - Beemnet Kebede
Kebede herself speaks Amharic, a language native to Ethiopia, while other members of the Global Culture Club include speakers of French, Spanish, Somali and Hindi. Kebede is determined to effectively integrate the Blair community regardless of differences in language. "Language will not be a barrier as we pass on information," she said.

One of the reasons Kebede was especially drawn to the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative was because she completed a project back in her homeland of Ethiopia to raise money and help Ethiopian woman become a larger influence in their own lives. In the future, Kebede would like to study nursing as well as pre-medicine. "I've always wanted to look at all levels of care and experience it," she said.

English teacher Lauren Termini, Kebede's English teacher for both sophomore and junior year, recommended the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative to Kebede last year. Termini is extremely proud of the way Kebede completed this project independently and winning the grant for such a good cause. "I'm so proud," Termini said. "No one deserves it more than she does."



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