Liya grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and loved being active from a young age. Her childhood involved testing out a variety of sports, like swimming, basketball, soccer and running. In high school, Liya ran varsity Cross Country and Track and continued with soccer briefly, before committing to running. Liya graduated from Yale University in 2011, where she ran for the Women's Cross Country and Track and Field Teams, serving as Cross Country captain her senior year. Liya joins GSW with a love for athletics and a strong belief in the power of sports to positively influence our lives. She is excited to be a member of the GSW team and continue impacting the lives of girls in Cusco!
A Texas native, Megan fell in love with field hockey when she was introduced to the sport in 6th grade. From there on out, she dedicated herself to becoming a better, stronger, and faster athlete. Megan had the incredible opportunity to compete in college-level athletics as a member of the Kenyon College Field Hockey team. Megan graduated with a degree in Social Justice in 2009 and is planning to pursue a Masters degree in Social Work after her year in Peru. As a beneficiary of the positive influence of sports and outdoor activity, Megan strongly believes that athletics and teamwork create a stronger sense of self-esteem and confidence. Megan can not think of a better job and is so grateful to be working on the ground this year with GirlSportWorks! She is excited to build relationships with our students and watch them grow into confident, capable young women!
Hailing from New Hampshire, Jamie grew up playing sports: first soccer, then field hockey, and always running track. Jamie graduated in 2006 from Bucknell University, where she was a member of the Women's Cross Country and Track & Field teams. As a beneficiary of the positive influence of athletics, Jamie believes in the power of sports to positively shape life choices, and can think of nothing more rewarding than the opportunity to similarly impact the lives of girls in Cusco. Currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health at the George Washington University, she comes to the program with a desire to infuse nutrition and sanitation education into the curriculum. Enthusiastic about the mission of empowering girls through athletics, Jamie looks forward to the year with GirlSportWorks.
Margie, a Washington DC native, was introduced to team sports at an early age, first with soccer and then, upon reaching 6 feet tall in high school, she learned sports that took advantage of her height - basketball and volleyball. Margie played on the Varsity Women's Volleyball team at Dickinson College and graduated in 2006 with an American Studies degree. In addition to her love of sports Margie brings a wealth of experience teaching and coaching youth and speaking Spanish. She is passionate about the GSW program and sees it as the perfect arena for Peruvian girls to discover their abilities, break limitations, and develop strong relationships with others.
Growing up in New Hampshire, Briana thrived on athletics. A two time state champion in high school soccer, Briana learned to push her limits physically and mentally and cooperate with her teammates, all skills that she has applied to other areas of her life. In addition to soccer, Briana has experience as a varsity athlete in track and field, lacrosse, and skiing as well as collegiate experience in rugby. Briana is continually adding to her athletic repertoire and has recently started playing ice hockey.
With a B.A. in Spanish from Providence College, Briana hopes to use her experience as a Girls' Soccer Coach and Language Teacher to channel interest in both sports and English in Cusco, Peru. She is interested in innovative teaching methods and most importantly believes that participation in sports can be life-changing.
As a native of Berkeley, California, I myself have always been athletic; while I have in the past played softball, soccer and volleyball with youth teams, I currently enjoy swimming, running, biking. I graduated from Yale University in May 2009, where I played water polo for four years on the club water polo team, acting successively as player, team manager and captain. I studied History and Biology in college and plan to pursue a career in pediatric public health and medicine. As I have gotten older and worked with girls in other countries, I increasingly have realized the self-confidence, body awareness and physical strength that years of competitive swimming and other team sports gave me.
For example, during the summer of 2008, I worked doing dental hygiene and nutrition education with an organization in Quito that focused on bettering the lives of child workers. This work allowed me to bond with Ecuadorian girls of all ages, and to thereby get acquainted with a variety of aspects of their culture. A lasting impression I had was of how lacking in many of the Ecuadorian girls I worked with were the positive contributions my team sport experiences had had on my mental and physical health, confidence and success.
Hence my enthusiasm for the mission of GirlSportWorks, whose Project Manager position would allow me to combine my interests in children, athleticism and public health with my love for traveling and experiencing new cultures. Since arriving in Cusco, I have taken great pleasure in using Spanish to meet my neighbors, learn about local cuisine and history, and explore my surroundings. I have been moved by the affection and enthusiasm of the girls we work with, as well as the collaborative energy of the schools' teachers and directors. I am especially looking forward to the field trips that Kim and I have been planning, such as to the pool or to the ruins of Sacsahuayman with a few of the schools, and even to Machu Picchu with the lucky girls at Pacca!
I grew up in Berkeley, California, and joined my first soccer team as an 11 year old. I continued to play on soccer and lacrosse teams at Berkeley High School, where I graduated in 2005. Playing on a team was always a positive force in my life, and I felt my own self-confidence increase as I worked with teammates to achieve a common goal. Throughout college I continued to be an avid runner, swimmer, and hiker. In June 2009 I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Remaining physically active and constantly challenging myself to meet and beat personal goals has always been a positive means to channel and relieve the stresses of everyday life.
I have always been passionate about working with children, and am dedicated to working to further social justice in society in a variety of manners. I started working at Camp Kee Tov summer day camp in Berkeley, California when I was 14, and have worked there most summers since. As a Project Manager for GirlSportWorks this year, I am eager to tap into my repertoire of athletic games and trust-building exercises from my years of camp-counselor experience.
This year, Lauren and I will take a holistic approach to improving the wellness and confidence of our girls through sports. We have begun to implement nutrition and health education into our curriculum so that our girls may come to understand how and why nutrition and exercise factor into the promotion of good health. Additionally, as many of the girls seem to be very timid in taking on leadership roles and expressing their opinions, we will encourage the building of leadership skills by praising girls that demonstrate leadership qualities and set good examples for their peers. Through this, we hope that the girls will begin to step out of their shells and begin to feel like strong, confident, and capable females.
I was initially attracted to GirlSportWorks by the opportunity to work with young females and encourage them to realize their own strengths. As a major in International Affairs with a concentration in Global Public Health at George Washington University, I became very aware of the societal and familial pressures put on young women throughout the world to fulfill traditional female roles as mothers and as wives. I've been fortunate enough to receive encouragement from my parents and professors to pursue my ambitions to explore the world and I hoped that I could similarly inspire the young females in our program.
Following graduation I moved to Cusco, and soon realized GSW's positive impact on its students and the surrounding communities. Through my work with Jennifer Hawkins (August-December 2008) and Elise Boyson, a friend and fellow George Washington classmate (March -August 2009), I helped to improve the interpersonal relationships and personal development of over 170 female students by providing them with an athletic and social outlet. I feel very fortunate to have witnessed the maturation of these girls. I will always smile when I think of a Chiquita hitting her first home run and being cheered on by her older classmates; I will always remember watching a friendship develop between a loud-mouthed wild child and a timid gordita; and I will never forget the students that confided in me.
During my year with GirlSportWorks, my interests in child development and in establishing sustainable international relationships grew. My future career choices will reflect not only that love of global interconnectedness, but also a sense of social responsibility acquired in Peru. My time in Cusco was truly educational and significant and I will always regard my students' growth as among my greatest achievements. Though I am now living in the Bay Area in California, I plan to be back in Latin America as soon as possible.
Originally from Maine, I attended George Washington University in Washington, DC and graduated in 2008. After graduation, I started working for Meridian International Center, a nonprofit public diplomacy institution dedicated to strengthening international understanding. My good friend from GWU and Program Manager Alexandra Behles encouraged me to apply for the Program Manager position with GSW, knowing about my love for sports, Latino culture, and interest in community development. As I found out more about GSW, I took the opportunity to really reflect on what role sports had played in my life for the first time. As the youngest in a family of athletes where playing sports is as natural as breathing, I grew up playing everything. I ultimately became very active in softball and skiing. As a skier, I learned self-discipline, ambition and dedication. As a captain and the catcher of my softball team, I learned leadership skills, assertiveness, and a significant sense of self worth.
I became excited at the prospect of exposing young girls to sports, who without GSW, may never have the opportunity to reap the benefits that athletics provide. Watching the girls shriek with laughter during class while engaging themselves in whatever sport or game they were playing, I knew I was providing them with the same opportunities I was lucky enough to have growing up. I will never forget the hugs and kisses Alex and I received from the girls as we approached the field at the beginning of class, or the way our students' faces would light up after a successful serve in volleyball or a goal in ftbol. I am proud to know that regardless of the paths our students take, that they valued the time we spent with together and will carry the lessons they learned in our program throughout their lives.
In Washington, D.C., I have continued to pursue my interest in all things international by working with the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program, a professional exchange that brings foreign nationals from all over the world to meet and confer with their professional counterparts. I anxiously await the arrival of any Peruvian professionals so I can be reminded of everything I love about the country, and all the wonderful times I had there.
Born and raised in Southern California, I moved east to attend Georgetown University. During my senior year I was teaching multiple group fitness classes a week when I learned about the GSW Project Manager position. I loved fitness and was eager to return to South America after studying abroad in Ecuador, and I knew instantly that it would be a great opportunity for me. When I started teaching in Cusco, some of our students were afraid to pick up the baseball bat. After some time, these same girls were stepping up to the plate, swinging the bat, running the bases and even refusing to let go of that formerly frightening bat! Watching shy, timid girls develop into confident young women was a beautiful experience. Co-Program Manager, Alex Behles, and I encouraged them to stand tall and proud, to speak clearly and assertively, and to live healthy and active lives. We were delighted to notice an improvement in their confidence and self-esteem.
In Peru I was able to exercise my passion for health and fitness, which has aided me in my professional endeavors. I returned to the U.S. to live in San Francisco and to work as a Community Manager for a small health start-up called The Medpedia Project. I am looking to expand my career in program development towards childhood obesity prevention.
I grew up just outside of Philadelphia and attended New York University, where I studied Education Reform. I first heard about GSW through former Progrram Manager Gillian Cassell-Stiga, who raved about her wonderful experience in Cusco. Working with underprivileged children and adolescents has been a passion of mine since I began interning in the non-profit world during college. I learned the importance of building self-esteem and confidence in a community of women and girls while facilitating an after school program for teenage girls in Brooklyn. I also taught multi-cultural theater workshops in Queens, and went on to run an after school program for homeless youth in five shelters throughout the New York City area.
What I valued most about my GSW experience was the opportunity it gave me to use new athletic activities as a method of teaching confidence and teamwork. In every class, I saw noticeable improvements in the girls' coordination and self-esteem. These small changes constantly reinforced GSW's role in the community. Our authority was often challenged by men and boys who wished to infringe upon our space during class, but Co-Program manager Claire Laver and I used those opportunities to teach the girls how to create gender pride and unity by claiming space for themselves. The incident that sticks out most in my mind occurred when twenty men aged 30-50 tried to steal the soccer cancha from us. We requested that they sit on the side and watch for a half an hour as we finished our soccer game. At first a hostile exchange, the men ultimately respected our work and our confidence as women and girls, and even seemed to enjoy watching us play!
I am currently living in Philadelphia, volunteering, taking metalworking classes, bartending, and considering pursuing a Masters in Social Work. After living in Cusco, I know that supporting underprivileged youth and speaking Spanish will always be central to my career. I hope to work in Latin America again in the future.
I grew up playing competitive soccer and lacrosse outside of Philadelphia and I went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 with a degree in Urban Studies and minors in Art History and Spanish. During college, former Program Manager Gillian Cassell-Stiga and I led our club soccer team to several regional playoff berths. After two years of post-college community-building and education related experience, I became excited about the prospect of working for a program that perfectly fused so many of my principal interests: athletics, youth education, Spanish language study, and international immersion and exploration. I had initially developed an interest in international community-oriented work through my involvement with the Interfaith Community Building Group of Philadelphia in El Salvador, and jumped at the chance to continue this type of work with GirlSportWorks.
One particularly memorable experience from Peru was our participation in a sports tournament for teachers in the Anta region outside of Cusco. Along with the teachers from Colegio Pacca, Co-Program Manager Sara Schwartz and I competed in track, volleyball, ping-pong, and chess to the cheers and support of our students. This event served as a great bonding experience for us with the greater Pacca community, and it also presented a nice opportunity to connect with other teachers and students from around the region.
As a result of this unique and challenging year of work, I carry with me a deep appreciation for the importance of international youth development, and a further understanding of how global partnerships are created. Additionally, I know that the confidence levels, leadership abilities, and teamwork skills exhibited by our students on the court and field will not only serve them well in athletics, but also in other important facets of their lives.
I remember the day I read the GirlSportWorks job posting on the Georgetown University career website like it was yesterday. Like most college seniors, I had been pouring over job postings for months, but had not found a position that I was truly passionate aboutÉuntil I read GSW's job description. I had fallen in love with Latin America when I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile the previous year, and I understood the value of athletics as a member of Georgetown's Woman's Crew team for 3 years. Furthermore, I felt very strongly about education and women's rights. Something in my head clicked when I read the posting; GSW's mission combined my three passions into the perfect job. Not a day passes that I do not think about my time in Peru and of all the girls and young women that I had the privilege to work with. Watching our students' self esteem grow on a daily basis and knowing that my presence was having a very tangible impact on their lives was such an incredible feeling. Additionally, the impact that GSW has had on my life is something I could never have anticipated. I honestly believe that I learned more about myself during my one year in Peru than I had learned in seventeen years of formal education. I returned from Peru with a profound sense of purpose and achievement, countless new friends, deep respect for Andean culture, and Ande, my Peruvian mutt.
Inspired by my work in Cusco, I enrolled at George Washington University upon my return to complete my Masters in International Education. Originally from Stratford, Connecticut, I now live in Washington, D.C. and work for the Open Society Institute, a private foundation that promotes democracy building and human rights. I hope to one day return to Peru to work on education reform, with a particular focus on making education inclusive for traditionally marginalized populations.
I have always recognized the transformative power of sports in my own life. I grew up as a shy kid in Baltimore, but joining my middle school basketball team gave me the confidence to make new friends. Later, as a three-season track and field athlete in high school, I used my training to become more disciplined and learned early on the importance of time-management. At Georgetown University I continued to benefit from the skills that I had developed as a young athlete; I was better able to balance my time between coursework as a Government major and the hours I spent rowing with the Women's Varsity Lightweight Crew team. Rowing also taught me the value of teamwork, which has proved invaluable in every aspect of my life.
I was first attracted to GirlSportWorks because, recognizing the importance of sports in my own life, I was eager to work with an organization that shared this same passion. The power of the GSW program is most evident in the changes that take place within each girl. When Sarah Flood, my Co-Program Manager, and I began teaching class, groups of boys would frequently try and overtake the field. The girls would suggest that we find somewhere else to play as if they felt it was the boys' prerogative to use the area. Sarah and I made a point to assert our presence in front of the boys, telling them that they could return when we were finished. At first, the girls were shocked by our actions, but by the end of our year in Cusco, our students would confidently explain to the boys, "Sorry, we're using the field now, you can come back when our game is over."
Sarah and I formed close bonds with our students, visiting their homes, interacting with their families and having them over to our apartment for fiestas. As the girls learned more about us, they recognized the opportunities that they could aspire to have one day: a university education, the opportunity to travel, and the ability to have a career. I also learned a great deal from the girls' home lives -- the local traditions and their perspectives on the world beyond Cusco. I was impressed with the emphasis placed on family in Peruvian society and the respect for local traditions.
After returning from Peru in 2007, I studied at the Institute for Documentary Filmmaking at the George Washington University. After graduating, I worked as a freelance Associate Producer for Lucky Dog Films, a small production company based in Bethesda, MD. I am now working for a technology consulting company producing web videos about cultural exchange programs for the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website. It is my hope in the future to combine my production experience with my interest in education, development and global security issues to create films that promote public understanding and awareness.
Originally from Massachusetts, I attended the University of Pennsylvania, where I studied Philosophy and languages, played on the Club Ultimate Frisbee team, and trained frequently for marathons. After summer experiences in Ecuador and Chile, I was itching to move to Latin America and to put my study of ethics into practice. Naturally, I was thrilled to stumble on GSW's job opening. I loved its small, grassroots approach and emphasis on promoting girls' healthy living. My Co-Program Manager, Gillian Cassell-Stiga, and I bonded through numerous experiences that no one else will ever quite understand (e.g., hanging on to each other for dear life while hitchhiking in the back of a pick-up truck during a pitch-black hailstorm!).
Gill and I worked hard to provide girls with opportunities to learn about their own history and culture. It bothered us that these Peruvian girls could not afford to go to the Museo de las Inkas, Machu Picchu, or a restaurant serving traditional Peruvian food. I'm proud of how we used the resources we had to give these girls access to their own culture. And I loved that we could work with girls on a personal basis, with an immediate goal of promoting physical and emotional health, while also instilling more conceptual goals like gender equality, health and education as a human right while dissipating misconceptions about foreigners. My favorite memories include teaching the girls, playing sports with them, running warm up jogs and telling stories, and giving a million kisses and hugs. I remember countless chats while sitting in a pile of girls, answering questions about life back home, defining our differences, and coming together over our similarities.
I still look at my photos of the girls dancing on special occasions, the mountains at Occopata, the fields of Pacca, and traditional cuy meals. My experience with GSW has unquestionably shaped who I am personally and where I am going professionally. I returned to the U.S. to conduct HIV/AIDs research with Latino populations (and quickly found the best salsa dive in Boston). I am still interested in international development and human rights, and I have decided to pursue graduate studies at the University of Denver. I am completing a dual degree program for a law degree and an M.A. in International Human Rights. As always, I daydream about my next return to Latin America!
Having completed an educational and fulfilling year in Cusco, I returned to the U.S. and used my newly developed Spanish skills to undergo Public Health research for the Harvard School of Public Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA. I studied Health Care System Design at Patch Adams' Gesundheit! Institute in West Virginia and continued on to join the Hearts and Noses Hospital Clown Troupe of Boston. I then moved back to my native state, Vermont, where I joined the Vascular Surgery Department and assisted in the outpatient clinic. Daily duties included dressing wounds, screening patients, amputation care, and office support.
I now am enrolled in the University of Rochester's Nurse Practitioner program where I hope to further utilize my Spanish skills to specialize in International Health. Within the summer of 2008 I was fortunate enough to re-visit Cusco and connect with some of the schools at which I taught during my GSW experience. I volunteered with a Hepatitis-B project during which I trekked throughout mountain villages to administer children with appropriate vaccinations. My memories and adventures in Cusco resurfaced as I reminisced with the teachers, staff, and students with whom I connected with so strongly three years prior.
Raised in Stamford, Connecticut, I attended Dartmouth College and graduated with a B.A. in English in June 2004. At Dartmouth, I was the poetry editor for one of the campus literary magazines. I coached basketball and softball in the Hanover area and I managed the Varsity Women«s Basketball team in their 2003-2004 season. After receiving a Master's degree in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth in 2006, I joined the New York City Teaching Fellows program. Currently I am living and working in the Bronx, teaching eighth grade English, and finishing up a second Master's in English Education