To implement this commitment, faculty at Alverno College will take the following steps:
1. Alverno College has secured through a private donor initial funding in the amount of ,000 to initiate the pilot project for Developing Leadership: Educating and Empowering Girls in Cameroon. These funds will cover travel costs and some educational materials. In addition, Alverno College faculty and staff plan to engage in fundraising throughout 2010-2011 to raise an additional ,000 to purchase laptop computers and software to use in the Leadership Program at St. Joseph's. These would become the property of St. Joseph's at the end of the program. During 2010-11, Alverno College will create a fundraising strategy to help this program become self-sufficient.
2. Throughout 2010, Alverno staff will work with The Cameroon Fund and St. Joseph's to develop a curriculum that addresses the specific challenges and needs of girls and women in Cameroon in developing and practicing leadership skills in multiple contexts. The goal is that every girl at St. Joseph's will have a means of practicing her leadership in a context that fits her specific interests and abilities. The curriculum will address leadership in girls by developing effective interpersonal communication skills; building mentoring relationships among girls and local women in leadership positions; articulating goals for girls' continued growth and success after graduation from St. Joseph's; and identifying and pursuing resources to support those goals.
3. Alverno will begin to establish a relationship and system that will allow other Alverno faculty to volunteer at St. Joseph's in subsequent semesters and years.
4. Alverno staff will explore opportunities for Alverno College students to do internships and teaching practicum at St. Joseph's. Also during 2010-11, we will schedule events for the Alverno community to publicize our CGIU Commitment, invite further connections between the project and specific academic programs or courses and provide local volunteer opportunities for those interested in improving the lives of girls across cultures.
5. In January, 2011, Professor Moore will travel to Bafut, Cameroon to live and work at St. Joseph's for the academic semester in order to establish a pilot project for the leadership academy; work with staff on teaching strategies for incorporating leadership into the curriculum; work with students to learn and practice leadership skills; establish mentoring relationships between St. Joseph's students and women leaders and former graduates of the school; create a resource center for girls to explore opportunities for education and employment after graduation.
Women and girls make up 55% of the population in Cameroon and are the key agents in providing for the health and safety of the families. While there are successful women in all aspects of the culture, research shows that as a group, women are still greatly disadvantaged by gender discrimination that manifests in sexual abuse and violence, education and employment limitations, and restrictive laws. In order for women to become empowered, they need to develop skills in communication and leadership and a vision of themselves that includes understanding their potential to influence people and institutions. The St. Joseph's school provides education for girls in middle and high school girls, most of who do not go on to higher education or specialized job training. Through the Leadership Development Program, girls will have contact with local mentors and will learn strategies for communicating effectively, negotiating conflict, setting goals, working in groups, and identifying and pursuing resources for personal and community growth projects.
Through the Cameroon Fund and CF's founder Mary Rose, a link between St. Joseph's and Alverno College has already been established. In 2002, after the death of her husband, Mrs. Rose traveled to Bafut, Cameroon on mission work with Sr. Edna Lonergan, President of St. Ann's Center for Intergenerational Care, a non-profit care organization sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, WI. On the trip, Mrs. Rose visited St. Joseph's school and found that the St. Joseph's 300+ students are among the most poverty stricken in the country and the school served as a primary stabilizing factor. Mrs. Rose established The Cameroon Fund and through donations and events raised the capital to build a dormitory with screens on the windows so that each girl had a bed in a clean setting protected from disease-bearing insects; a dining hall and tables so the girls no longer had to stand outside to eat; and bathrooms and showers in lieu of the ditch toilets and sponge bath area that the girls used. Mrs. Rose also secured donors to pay tuition for 2-3 graduates of St. Joseph's to attend college at Alverno.
Through a chance meeting, Mrs. Rose met Jill Newton Moore, an Alverno Professor in Professional Communication. Professor Moore had lived in East Africa in the 1970's and hoped to return to Africa in 2011 during a sabbatical to volunteer in a local school. Together Mrs. Rose and Professor Moore developed a preliminary plan that Moore would work with students and staff at St. Joseph's in spring of 2011 to provide curriculum and training in developing a leadership academy.
This led to wider discussions at Alverno College about becoming a 'sister school' with St. Joseph's. Since summer of 2009, Alverno staff have met with Mrs. Rose and other members of The Cameroon Fund, along with graduates of St. Joseph's who are currently attending Alverno on scholarships provided by TCF, to learn more about St. Joseph's, the position of girls and women in Cameroon, the opportunities and limitations they face, and the ways they are able, through education and leadership skills, to influence their culture and communities in positive and empowering ways. From these discussions, Alverno committed to exploring ways to build a supportive, mutually beneficial relationship through possible Alverno student intern opportunities at St. Joseph's especially relevant for education and nursing students, staff exchange, and curriculum development at St. Joseph's with a focus on leadership skills.
Best Practice Information
Best Practice Information
We would be happy to communicate with others who are planning or are involved in similar projects teashing leadership skills to girls in Africa. We have developed a curriculum and have several in-country contacts who would be willing to host teachers, student teachers, tutors, physical therapists, specials in special needs children, and others who could be of service to SJCHS or SAJOCAH.