The Mayfield Filipina Affinity Group has been awarded a prestigious grant to establish an educational and cultural exchange program with students in the Philippines who are survivors of human trafficking and children of former commercial sex workers.
In selecting the proposal, the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) lauded the reciprocal nature of Mayfield students’ vision that “will raise issues of diversity, build relationships through listening and shared experiences, and enhance cultural identity, leadership skills, and personal growth for each girl involved,” said NCGS Executive Director Megan Murphy.
Mayfield is only the third school to have been awarded the $1,000 Moulton Student Global Citizen Grant from the NCGS, an international organization of more than 250 K-12 girls’ schools.
“NCGS is thrilled to award the Moulton Grant to such a worthy and fitting project," Ms. Murphy said.
Established by Megan Moulton, NCGS co-founder, the grant aims to help girls develop leadership, fortify their strategic thinking and enhance their global mindfulness by developing empathy and respect for others.
Head of School Kate Morin said the Mayfield students’ “creativity, determination and deep sense of empathy to really get to know, in a meaningful way, students in the Philippines is a living example of our Holy Child ‘Actions Not Words’ philosophy.”
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Mrs. Morin of this international honor.
Director of Campus Ministry Teri Gonzales came across the grant announcement and presented the idea to the girls, who were instantly inspired and excited about the prospect of reaching out to girls of their own culture.
Ms. Gonzales, aware of the work at the Maria Droste Training Center from her past ministry experiences in the Philippines, thought it was a perfect match for the goals the outlined in the grant. She helped Mayfield students make connections with the school in Banawa Hills, Cebu City.
“We immediately said yes!” said Julia Domingo ‘21, who spearheaded the Mayfield application. “I was so excited to have this opportunity to maybe make a difference in our affinity and represent the Filipina community at Mayfield.”
After a week of intense planning with their faculty advisors, the students submitted their application just four minutes short of the deadline. Several weeks later they found out their “maybe” application had won the award.
Students quickly turned their accolades into action.
Only days after celebrating the honor, the group gathered at lunch to begin brainstorming how they will build relationships with their Filipina counterparts.
They will use the grant money to fulfill equipment and software needs in the classroom, upgrading their platforms to accommodate QuickTime video lessons and FlipGrid video discussions. This will effectively create a virtual, global classroom. The technology allows the students to connect, converse and learn from one another—emojis and stickers included!
To hear Mayfield students talk about the project is to understand how the meaning of mutual respect and understanding is unfolding in their lives. Originally, the sophomore girls thought they could help the Filipina students with English and math. But given that the other students are already studying these subjects, they turned to a topic that is universal and relevant to all teens—health and wellness.
“I feel that because we are all Filipina we can relate to each other already,” Julia said. “And because we are all teenagers, we face the same struggles, the same social challenges, emotional issues, especially with the stress of school.”
Kimberly Gomez, co-advisor of the group, explained that “we have something special at Mayfield with Formation of Self,” the groundbreaking personal development and wellness curriculum. The four-year program has been praised nationally for integrating life-skills, mental health and wellness issues and mindfulness through seminars with experts in the field.
The girls mapped out lessons on teen communication, stress vs. anxiety, healthy vs. toxic relationships, and how to regain confidence after a difficult time. They assigned tasks and envisioned introductory video tours of their schools. They decided they would use first names only to respect the privacy of their counterparts. And objective No. 1—no homework, just exchanges.
In turn, our girls hoped the Filipina students could share their gift of the Tagalog language.
“We really want to learn Tagalog so they know how proud we are of our heritage,” said Rebecca Lara ’21. “We want to learn more about it from them so it will always be a part of who we are.”
They are hoping for their first “virtual meeting” in about two months.
“We are going to evolve and continue this and include more people,” Julia said. “This is just the start-up for us!”