Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School student Sofia Garcia has been selected to participate in the Global Citizens Initiative (GCI) fellowship. The fellowship is a 10-month program designed to address global issues at local and community-wide levels. The program brings fellows from around the world to the Global Citizen Initiative's nine-day summit at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
For Sofia, the GCI fellowship was not the first thing that crossed her mind this semester; she had only heard of the application after the deadline. "It was shocking because I did it in a rush," she said, reflecting on her acceptance.
In the GCI fellowship, participating students cultivate the resources necessary to be effective and ethical leaders over a nine-day workshop that includes a series of Socratic seminars — group discussions on ideas, issues, and values.The fellows also focus on a Glocal Service Project (GSP), where they explore global issues through engagement, ethics, excellence, and leadership lenses. In these exercises, they identify solutions "glocally:" thinking globally, but acting locally. The program culminated with presentations by all the fellows. After the summit, Sofia will continue to work with her mentor on her project for the remaining nine months of the fellowship.
"There were so many people you could meet from around the world. They're from different cultures." Sofia said, "It was so nice to learn about different experiences, cultures, traditions, and food — the other fellows had a lot to share about where they're from."
Sofia used her GCI Fellowship project to address urban planning issues through sustainable cities and infrastructure. She first noticed infrastructure issues in her neighborhood. She said, "I noticed that in my area, all the bus stops have no trees or shade around them." Sofia pointed out that her grandmother is a bus commuter, which inspired her to come up with a solution to the lack of shade structures for bus stops.
"It was also eye-opening because I never really noticed there was no shade, yet people constantly wait under the sun. These small things can be so big to other people."
Ánimo Jackie Robinson Support
Xavier Lovo, Ánimo Jackie Robinson's guidance counselor, wasn't surprised to hear Sofia’s acceptance into the fellowship. "She is academically driven, open-minded to learning about different cultures, and has a genuine interest in wanting to do more, so she was the perfect candidate and representative of Ánimo Jackie Robinson and our community," said Lovo.
Sofia received her acceptance email during lunch, telling Lovo – only second to her best friend – about the great news. "I went to show Mr. Lovo because this is something that he and I worked on together throughout the application process," she said.
Ánimo Jackie Robinson staff have always encouraged students from all academic backgrounds to participate in many programs, gain professional skills, and immerse themselves in new cultures. "Ánimo Jackie Robinson always announces new programs like the Global Citizen Initiative," Sofia said. "That's one thing that I like. You can always do something if you're interested in a certain topic. You can go to your counselors, who'll let you know what's available and always encourage you to do it. They never limit you."
Green Dot Public Schools California believes in bringing out each student's full potential academically and through confidence-boosting opportunities. "I think about bringing anything that is out of their normal routine and giving students opportunities to see what is outside the classroom to give them the motivation and spark to explore career interests and figure out passions that they would have never known," said Mr. Lovo.
For Sofia, the fellowship is just the start of what she hopes will be a long traveling career to make a profound difference in the world. For now, she encourages all her classmates to "take the opportunities you get" she said, "If I had not decided to write a couple of essays, I wouldn't have been able to meet all those people and discover Scotland. Take all the opportunities you're offered."