Woodland Worldwide Giving Students the Opportunity to Solve Real-World Challenges

In the United States, women can vote and all girls have the opportunity to go to school.  However, this is not the case everywhere and two thirds of illiterate people are women.  In fact, 70% of the world’s 130 million children out-of-school are girls.  Helping women around the world to live a better life, Woodland Worldwide (WW) offers students the opportunity to give back and solve challenges not only in the local community but worldwide.

Woodland Worldwide (WW), a club offered at Woodland Regional High School, helps to raise awareness of violations of women’s rights all around the world and makes efforts to improve them, holding their mission to raise awareness of women’s oppression worldwide close to everything they do.  

Co-leader Lisa Olivere, a teacher at WRHS, was inspired to start the club WW after reading the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  In the book, Kristof describes much of the oppression that women are facing worldwide, such as human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and lack of education.  Kristof created the thesis that as a global society, if we want to rid ourselves of the major perils of the world, such as war, disease, illiteracy, and terrorism, we need to elevate women and girls. Kristof conducted research to support this thesis and found that when women are invested in, they have a higher tendency to reinvest in their community and family.  At the end of the book, Kristof challenged readers to take action and do something that will help women who are being oppressed.  This challenge resonated with Olivere, who gathered a group of students and staff, including current co-leader Meghan Geary, also a teacher at WRHS, with similar concerns for women worldwide.  

In the years since WW was started, the club has been able to contribute to many non-profit organizations and projects which help to improve the lives of women and children. For example, WW has recently contributed to the Malala fund, which provides equity and education worldwide.  The club has also raised money for the Gimbichu Project, which specializes in providing educational opportunities and health care for children in Ethiopia.  WW also offers two scholarships to WRHS students and alumni.  The first is a leadership scholarship, which is offered to WRHS students and allows them to take advantage of opportunities such as leadership programs and conferences.  The second is the Woodland Worldwide Alumni Volunteer Abroad Scholarship, which allows for WRHS alumni to do service work in a developing country.      

Aisha Yusuf, a sophomore at WRHS, joined WW in her freshman year because she felt the purpose of the club was interesting.  She enjoys being a part of WW and especially likes the kindness shown by the advisors, Olivere and Geary.  Yusuf says she likes the flexibility with meetings and finds it easy and less stressful to fit into her schedule since Olivere and Geary take into account that club members are busy and do not penalize you for missing meetings.  Yusuf hopes to learn about situations of girls from different countries around the world during her experiences with WW.

One of the things that WW is very well known for in the community is the Run for a Revolution 5K run and 2 mile walk.  However, Olivere and Geary have decided to make a change this year since many other organizations in the community have been hosting road races.  Plus, they wanted to do something that was more closely linked with the mission of WW.  This year, WW will host its first leadership and wellness conference on December 8.  WW members, students taking AP Psychology or sociology, and student government members will all be a part of it.  The conference will feature a series of guest speakers, including former WRHS students, community members, and even some present WRHS students, who will host workshops throughout the day for other students to attend.  Students who are a part of similar organizations from other schools have also been invited to attend.

In America, it is easy to take for granted the fact that all girls can go to school.  However, this is not the case worldwide.  Thanks to organizations like WW, students can become more aware of this and even find ways to support girls and women who are less fortunate than themselves.