GLOW in Ethiopia: An RPCV Interview

Because we’re in the season of planning and fundraising for Camp GLOW, I wanted to reach out to fellow Peace Corps Volunteers who also participate in Camp GLOW around the world. I spoke with Emily W, a recent RPCV from Ethiopia who served as an English Language Improvement Advisor from 2013-2015. Our short exchange went like this.

When did you get involved with Camp GLOW?

I’ve done GLOW (Girls and Guys Leading our World) camps twice now and they’ve easily been one of the best parts of my service. I’ve taught a variety of lessons at these camps, from female reproductive and menstrual health, to RUMPs (reusable menstrual pads), public speaking, self-esteem and action planning!

I noticed that your GLOW camp is Girls and Guys Leading our World, did you do a camp with boys and girls together, or two separate camps?

We did a girls and boys camp together. The majority of the time, the girls and boys were all together, but if there were sensitive sessions, such as condom demonstrations or RUMPs, we split them up. We thought it was important to bring both girls and boys together for camp because they both will create the future together. Also, girls and boys are very separated in the schools. For example, they don’t talk to each other, nor play sports together. If seen talking or hanging out with the opposite sex, one can be made fun of. Culturally, if girls and boys are friends, everyone assumes it’s romantic and is very discouraged. Then one day, they get married. We thought it was important to talk about how girls and boys could be friends and work together without it being romantic and most importantly, that both groups need to support each other.

Why is GLOW important for the girls and boys who participate?

Camps are always fun and full of important information for students that they just don’t get in school. I taught female reproductive health where we talked about the menstrual cycle and the parts of female anatomy. I was amazed and astounded that these girls had known so little about their bodies. They did not know how to plan for their periods nor the basics about how to take care of themselves. Girls around the world are missing a week of school every month because they don’t know how to take care of themselves during their periods and they don’t have the materials to do so. It was eye-opening because these topics are considered taboo and something so simple (hygiene education and RUMPs) could change a girl’s life.

How does Camp GLOW make an impact on individual communities?

Camp GLOW is a space for students to learn that they can become leaders in their communities. Last year after Camp GLOW, my students came back with me from the camp full of enthusiasm about all that they had learned and decided to start a drive to collect old uniforms from the students who had graduated from the primary school in order to give them to orphans and vulnerable children who could not afford them. They also asked for donations from the community and raised awareness of the issue around town. Although I left the country shortly after this year’s camp, the students were very excited to start a garden at the local high school in order to create sustainable support for students in need. I can’t wait to see what they achieve!

What does GLOW mean to you?

Being able to answer questions for girls that they’ve had their whole life and weren’t able to ask, was probably one of the most powerful things I’ve done.

Thank you Emily W!

Peace Corps Nicaragua and the GAD Committee are getting ready for Camp GLOW 2016. Please support this international cause that not only impacts girls and boys, but entire communities. These girls are leaders and will make change. As we’ve seen in Ethiopia, GLOW is a forum for kids to be kids, for learning and growth, and for the development of our future leaders.

– Rachel, HE 63

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