Local Girls Travel to Chile as Part of State Department Initiative

Abiba Salahou and Mikayla Cleary-Hammarstedt will travel to Chile with Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation Director Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner March 14-19 as part of a “Girl Ambassadors for Human Rights” program. Through a grant made possible in part by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, the visit is part of a year-long Museums Connect initiative which will bring together 50 teenage girls from Villa Grimaldi museum (Chile), the Institute of Social Development (Sri Lanka) and the Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, to explore and share their experiences and ideas through facilitated dialogue, social media technology, and international travel. The participating museums are all members of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, which partnered in the grant.

Abiba Salahou is a senior at Nottingham High School, where she is a member of the National Honor Society, French, Book and Key Clubs, the Muslim Student Association and actively involved as a facilitator in Community Wide Dialogue to end Racism. She serves in Student Government and is Yearbook Editor. Abiba also works with Seeds of Peace and tutors with the Somalian Bantu project. Abiba has played for her school soccer, lacrosse, and track teams while keeping up Honor Roll and High Honor Roll statuses. She is very eager to start the next chapters of her life in University.

Mikayla Cleary-Hammarstedt is a junior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School and belongs to the Environmental Conscience (ECOS) Club, Fair Trade Club, Student Forum and Women in Power. She plays tennis, takes part in the Community Wide Dialogue on Racism and is on the Step Team for Black History Month. Mikayla sings with the Syracuse Community Choir and plays with the FM Concert Orchestra. She has been on the High Honor Roll for her three high school years.

Two representative girls traveled with Gage Foundation personnel to Sri Lanka in December, and representatives from the museums in Chile and Sri Lanka will visit the Gage Center in April.

Under the mentorship of community leaders, the girls will use the museums’ exhibits at each site as a launch pad to explore local women’s history and roles in social change, questions of identity, gender-based discrimination, and definitions of what it means to be a free woman. They will share what they’ve learned through public presentations and dialogue, both virtual through Skype and social media and in-person, to identify common goals and tactics that transcend differing cultural expectations and desires.

“Cultural exchanges are an incredible way to show the world America’s unique creativity and spirit,” said Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. “That’s why the United States supports programs like Museums Connect—to foster the people-to-people connections that strengthen a museum’s presence in its community, and the community’s presence in the world.”


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