Decatur High School, GA

A world of opportunity

My World introduces students to leadership and international travel

December 12, 2016

A world of opportunity

“Travel is one of life’s best teachers, yet sadly many students never venture far from their immediate communities due to lack of opportunities, resources and finances,” My World program director Jamilah Rashid said.

My World is an Atlanta based global citizenship program focuses on building leadership skills through local, national, and international travel. Rashid’s 20 years of travel experience and youth work allows her to guide and offer a new perspective to the variety of individuals that take part in My World.  Jamilah Rashid was inspired to create the group when finances hindered her ability to travel as a teenager.  After graduating college, she wanted to develop a program that will give students the traveling opportunities that she lacked.

“I have always wanted to facilitate those travel experiences for other young people,” Rashid said. The program is designed to build necessary skills for navigating life in an interconnected world prior to travel. These experiences provide team building activities, cultural excursion, community service and self awareness.

Through her research, Rashid learned that leadership, global citizenship, and 21st Century skills were almost all the same thing. She realized that if students could build proficiency in these areas it would set them up for success in their personal and professional lives.

This learning has already begun to pay off for Druid Hills High senior and alumni Michelle Ogutu. My World helped Ogutu develop self-awareness.

“The program helped me learn that body gestures and facial expressions can say a lot about you.” Ogutu said. Learning the importance of self-awareness has helped her improve her customer service skills in the workplace. “I have learned to be more aware my non verbal expression especially when I am at work because it’s what people see before you speak.” Ogutu said

Ogutu has gone to take advantage of other leadership opportunities, such as becoming president of the International Club, getting a job at Home Goods department store, and becoming an community service event planner with the Emory Kwik Team Club.

My World participate visit the Hindu Temple of Atlanta where they learned about Hinduism and its history.

Muslimo Sheikh, a senior at DHS and a current member of My World has noticed similar benefits but was at first hesitant about joining My World. “I was a loner and had terrible social skills. I wanted nothing to do with meeting new people, but I wanted to try something new, I wanted change,” Sheikh said.

My World broaden her perspective . “It mostly expanded my perspective on different cultures and religion because of the diversity in the group and our visits to the Synagog, Mosque, Hindu Temple, and Church.” Sheikh said. “Having these experiences I have become open-minded and my knowledge about other cultures and religions have increased.”

Prior to joining My World she was shy, quiet and hardly ever spoke. “I became a lot more confident in myself. My actions and my overall communication skills have improved, and I am no longer the quiet person I used to be,” Sheikh said.

Sheikh has gone on to pursue other leadership roles at DHS such being in SGA. “My World is the reason that I became senator of SGA, and the reason that I am not afraid to let my voice be heard and meet new people,” Sheikh said

Every year the group travels internationally and this Thanksgiving break eight students ventured to Senegal. “I am excited for the students who have never left this country to be able to gain new perspectives, learn about a culture that is very different and be able to find beauty in other places,” Rashid said. The program focuses on travel to Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Muslimo, Amatullah and Destiny (My World students ) volunteer their time to help build a bathroom in Keur Simbara.

The program has opened Sheikh’s eyes to the real world, and her perspective of the world completely changed especially after their Senegal trip. “Traveling to Senegal was very eye-opening because it was unlike anything I have seen or experienced before,” Sheikh said.

In Senegal they worked with Tostan to build a bathroom in a village called Keur Simbara. They carried bricks and dug holes that were about six feet deep. “Building the bathroom was hard labor,” Sheikh said.

”Overall, even though it was a lot of hard labor, I enjoyed every bit of it because the adults and children in the village were very happy, excited, and appreciative of our work,” Sheikh said.  While in Senegal students also visited with pen pals, went sightseeing and rode camels.

Sheikh has learned to be grateful for everything she has and to take advantage of the opportunities she has here in America.

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