At a recent Wednesday Morning Meeting, representatives from Dana Hall’s African Studies classes formally presented the SISTERS Declaration of Agency, the capstone of their collaborative work with 11th grade history students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.
The Declaration of Agency is the latest outcome of the partnership between the two girls schools. In 2013, the two institutions established the Strengthening International Sisterhood Through Education, Relationship-building and Service (SISTERS) program. SISTERS is based on joint service missions, curriculum sharing, collaborative online research projects and faculty and student exchange programs.
Prior to the writing of the declaration, students used a virtual platform to engage in a weeks-long research project with one another in which they explored the following questions: What is “agency” and why is it essential in bringing about change? Based on an examination of the agency employed by African women continent-wide, are there any common characteristics or experiences that inform a woman's sense of agency? If there ARE common characteristics and experiences that help to inform women's agency, are our respective institutions doing a good job of cultivating these in our students?
As they completed their research, students discovered that both of schools are indeed making progress in the development of agency, but they also agreed unanimously that both schools could be doing better to reach more students and offer more opportunities to hone these skills.
The resulting document, signed by all of the participating students from both schools, is a culmination of their research, discussions and debates. It includes a preamble, stating the reasoning for the writing of the declaration, a section titled “What We Know,” in which students outline what they learned from their research, and a section titled, "What We Aspire To," which shares what the writers of the declaration hope to see in the future.
OWLAG students will present the same document to their Head of School, Melvin King in the beginning of June.
"I love playing basketball at Dana. Our team is really like a family, and we’ve grown so much over the three years I’ve been on the team. My freshman year I never would have thought that we would be able to win the EIL league, but this past winter we did! What makes the team so great is how we look out for each other on and off the court. My teammates are my biggest supporters and it’s always great when we get to welcome new members onto the team. I can’t wait to be captain next year."