Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Uniting Different Worlds

Starting a non-profit organization to improve international understanding is no small order, especially for an 18-year-old high school graduate. Yet this is exactly what Jessica Rimington (SFS ’09) did in 2004. She talks about the One World Youth Project*, a program that helps students from the United States connect with other students from around the world.

Could you explain Old World Youth Project?

I took a year off before I came to Georgetown to try to start a pilot educational program. It started with just a few schools. The idea was to link middle and high schools in the U.S. with schools abroad for cultural exchange programs and to work toward community service together. We’re in our third program year – it’s become an actual non-profit organization. Our mission statement is: `We connect middle and high schools in the U.S. with schools abroad to work together to help reach the Millennium Development Goals through collaborative community service.’

Are you continuing the program here at Georgetown?

Yes, we are. We have three Georgetown students, including myself, involved in the volunteer staff, and university students from all over the country are also on our volunteer staff.

What have you planned for the event that you are having at Georgetown?

We have 44 schools involved in 17 countries and 12 U.S. states, so it’s a really diverse network. What we’ve found recently is that most of the communication is done online, which is really beneficial, but it’s really great to bring people face to face. So we’re really lucky to be able to utilize the Georgetown resources here to hold a youth summit.

This’ll be our second annual One World North America Youth Summit to take place here at Georgetown March 28 through April 1, bringing in kids from Canada, Mexico and all over the U.S. to work on leadership training, specifically focused on the Millennium Development Goals.

How do you find schools to join the program?

We hold an application process every spring and we accept them in July. We started out contacting our friends, family, people we knew around the world in different places, and since then we haven’t really had to advertise. Word of mouth has been effective.

What inspired you to start the program?

When I was 16 years old, I went to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a conference to talk about how we could build a better future, and it brought together youth from all over the world.

I experienced a lot of really intense stereotyping against Americans when I was there. There were only two of us from the U.S. and they tried to vote us out of the event at one point before they even knew us as people, just by what they thought we represented coming from the United States.

It showed me that in order to accomplish anything and work together and make a difference and try to do anything you have to first understand who you’re working with and get to know people on a friend level and know people as people, rather than politics and countries.

Have you had any favorite or outstanding moments working with the project?

We had a school in New Orleans paired with a school in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. This is pre-Katrina. They really got to know each other. . They both liked to listen to Usher music, stuff like that, and really became close.

And then after Hurricane Katrina hit, we didn’t hear anything from the New Orleans school. It was completely destroyed, 8 feet underwater. But who we did hear from immediately was the school in Mongolia, and they helped raise over $5,000 to contribute to Katrina relief, which is a lot in the U.S. and a lot in ongolia.

They said that if they hadn’t gotten to know these students as friends, then they wouldn’t have really thought that much about the news about Katrina because it would seem so distant and far away. That showed us why this is important.

Do you find it hard to keep up with your schoolwork and do this at the same time?

It’s definitely challenging. I guess I’m lucky that I’ve been able to take a lot of classes that relate to the subject matter that we’re working with, so I can use examples from work to help write a paper. But I’m not gonna lie – it’s hard. But we really believe in this, and I can’t imagine not having this in my life. It’s just so exciting.

Did you join the madness on M Street Sunday night?

I went down to the Prospect area, but I didn’t go all the way to the White House.

Do you think we’re going to beat Ohio State?

Of course!

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