Bed-Stuy students Alysha Huggins, Gabriel Johnson and Irene Hupstead are three lucky high-schoolers who got a chance to meet Ambassador Susan Rice this past February at an event held at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
The special session was organized by Rice and Global Kids, Inc., a nonprofit group based in New York City dedicated to educating underprivileged kids on the subjects of international affairs, media and public policy.
“Ambassador Rice has been a phenomenal model to our young people,” said Amira Fouad, assistant director of special projects and communications at Global Kids.
“As a woman really making enormous changes in foreign policy, the fact that she opens her doors to so many New York City young people throughout the year showing how young people’s voice can reform policy and world issues is something they can use to aspire to be like her one day.”
Rice, a Rhodes Scholar and experienced diplomat, was selected to be ambassador by President Obama at the beginning of his term in 2009. At the event, Rice spoke about her experience in public service and foreign policy as well as how important education was in shaping her career.
For Huggins, Johnson and Hupstead, the chance to come face-to-face with a VIP like Rice was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It was amazing, because I never got a chance to be that close to someone who works with the President of the United States of America,” said Hupstead, a 15-year-old sophomore at Paul Robeson High School who came to Global Kids last June.
Hupstead, who plans to pursue law after she finishes high school, said that besides meeting Ambassador Rice, her participation in Global Kids has shown her how to work as a team in accomplishing a task.
That’s the notion behind Global Kids, said the organization's Executive Director Evie Hantzopoulos: Making a difference through teamwork.
Ninety-four percent of the program's seniors graduated from high school in 2010. Moreover, participants in Global Kids have broadened their worldviews via access to some of the top thinkers, on a variety of issues that confront the world today.
“We believe that all young people have a role and the capacity to succeed and to contribute their community, to the world and to the conversations that are going on the most local level of government to the international arena,” said Hantzopoulos.
“By understanding what’s going on in the world you’re able to address things that you want to change right back in your own home.”
Huggins, a junior at the High School for Global Citizenship, is another fitting example. She described herself as “kinda shy” before she joined Global Kids.
Huggins heard about the group after a couple of friends at her school invited her to take part in a program, the Human Rights Activist Project (HRAP), which amongst other things confronts companies that use child labor. Since then, she’s become a fixture at the Global Kids headquarters in Manhattan as well as a group leader with a focus on women’s issues.
“It’s important to know how everything connects,” said Huggins. “You have crime, poverty all these negative things around you, [but] you shouldn’t take for granted that you can’t do anything about it.”