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Global Citizenship Program fosters local-global solidarity through community-based learning

Thirteen first-year students and three local organizations strengthen our Washington University-St. Louis community

Over the course of the Spring 2021 semester, the students of the Ampersand Global Citizenship Program engaged in a community-based learning initiative with the purpose of recognizing the ‘global’ in the ‘local,’ and understanding how global solidarity can be fostered without crossing borders or even traveling.


The 13 first-year students were paired with three local organizations: Solidarity EconomyVitendo 4 Africa, and St. Louis Inter-faith Committee on Latin America. These organizations were chosen for the ways in which they embody the mission of the Global Citizenship Program: to accept our shared responsibilities to each other as humans, and to contribute to the formation of local and global communities grounded in solidarity and mutual empowerment. Each of these organizations implements unique methods to advance this mission and address societal issues within our St. Louis region and beyond.


Although tackling community projects with “real-world” organizations is no small responsibility for first-years still adjusting to college and to a new city, each of the GCP students stepped-up to the task. Approaching this opportunity as much more than an assignment to be done for a grade, the students dedicated themselves to growing in community with each other and the individuals whom they were encountering outside of their Wash U bubble.


Looking forward to next year, the Global Citizenship Program hopes to strengthen the ties and continue collaborating with many of the local partners from this semester. Thank you to all the community partners who made this experience a reality!

  • Hannah Levin, Sarah Dalton, and Julia Ho, Solidarity Economy and STL Mutual Aid
  • Geoffrey Soyiantet and staff, Vitendo 4 Africa
  • Sara John, Rita Chang, and Alex Nessi, IFCLA

And thank you to all the Global Citizenship Program students who said ‘yes’ to this opportunity to foster solidarity within their new Washington University-St. Louis community!

Read more about the projects

Solidarity Economy

Ally Ratner, Kennedy Rupert, and Talia Stein spent their Saturday afternoons each week making calls for the STL Mutual Aid hotline. After reviewing both requests for aid and offers of support submitted by community members from across St. Louis, the students called each individual to gain more clarity on their situations. When funds or aid were available, students were able to connect those who were struggling with the necessary support.


Vitendo 4 Africa (V4A)

The largest group of students included Riya Chadha, Natasha Chisholm, Abree Peterson, Sai Vuda, Emily Woodruff, and Ariella Zagorsky. Five of these students worked with Vitendo 4 Africa to plan and implement a virtual speech and debate program for first- and second-generation youth from Africa. The program culminated in a final speech and debate tournament on April 29th. Given the large quantity of students and the diversity of ages and interests, the students were divided into four groups. The middle school argumentative section consisted of four students who debated whether or not plastics should be banned. Another nine middle school students presented their individual informative speeches on topics ranging from transhumanism, to religion in schools, to racial stereotyping in healthcare. For the high school students there was a poetry section, and an informative speech group with students covering the Black Life Matters movement in professional sports and fat/skinny shaming. Over 40 people attended the Zoom event to celebrate the students’ hard work and growth.


While the other Global Citizenship Students worked with V4A on the speech and debate program, Ariella Zagorsky spearheaded a separate project to record personal testimonies from people who have worked with the organization. The video project will continue throughout the summer.


St. Louis Inter-faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) 

After taking several weeks to absorb information on migrant justice work in St. Louis and observe the methods that IFCLA uses to approach such work, Micah Benson, Kate Dickman, Jo Palisoc, and Branden Rothenberg formed a small policy team to assist specifically with the advocacy platform of the organization. Their tasks included writing testimony for proposed bill changes, summarizing federal immigration memorandum, and synthesizing complex immigration policies into more digestible and relatable material to inform the IFCLA community base here in St. Louis.  


“The most rewarding part of GCP this year was the community-based learning project. I loved meeting and working alongside the students in the public speaking mentoring program for V4A and the final debate and speech presentation event in particular in which I got to see how much all of the students had grown and become more confident in their public speaking throughout the program we led.”

-GCP Participant