My GLI Global Theme is Inequality and Human Rights and my Challenge is Access to Education. I was hoping to study this challenge abroad in Africa but ended up learning more about this right here in Missoula! I had the wonderful opportunity of interning with The Flagship Program for six weeks over the summer at Hawthorne Elementary School. I was one of two people running a summer camp for kindergarten through sixth grade. I was not sure what I was going to learn about access to education in a place where I grew up so close to. However, I learned more than I ever imagined.
My experience with Flagship helped me to be on the inside of a program that provides access to education, particularly to subjects and extracurriculars that many students do not usually have access to. As the Flagship Program is free to students, many of the kids I worked with are from low-income families. A few of the students talked to me about how they love art, but only get to do it a few times a month during the school year. The Flagship Program is one of the only free summer camps in Missoula. Many other camps cost $200 or more. Children deserve to be able to have fun, even if they cannot afford a traditional summer camp. I am so grateful for the work The Flagship Program does in the Missoula community and that I was able to be a part of it for six weeks!
I have to tell the story of the poor moth. While we were outside, the girls found a moth because it landed on one of them. She freaked out and brushed it off her and it fell to the ground, injuring one of its wings. They found a container inside and made it a new home and promised to take care of it for the rest of their lives. When they brought it inside, a group of kids was coloring. They took the markers and colored the poor moth’s wings. They also gave it part of the cupcakes I made for my birthday. It actually picked up the cake and appeared to be eating it. One of the girls took the moth home, and it died a few days later. It was both hilarious, a little sad, and very sweet.
My internship with Flagship helped me to develop so many different skills. I was able to work on communication, time management, empathy, creativity, flexibility, and so many more ways. Leading the kids in various games and activities helped me to become a better leader. I look forward to being able to implement the skills I got to work on this summer when I graduate and become a public school teacher.
Working with Flagship was one of the most fun “jobs” I have ever had. I loved the small number of children and being able to let them decide what they wanted to do. Many of the kids said this was the most fun they have had since school ended back in March. I was so glad to be able to bring fun to the kids and provide opportunities for them to make friends and have fun together, even in the midst of a pandemic.
I would also like to tell future GLI students that a Beyond the Classroom Experience in Missoula or elsewhere in the US can be just as rewarding as one in another country. I am extremely grateful for my experience with The Flagship Program!