By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
It is such an annoying grownup question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I remember getting tired of adults asking me that as a kid. Maybe because my answer, "An Olympic equestrian rider," always generated cynical chuckles from the inquiring adult.
But it is an important question, especially as children become young adults in middle and high school. The question is on my mind because one of many questions we ask girls participating in our Girls Project at the beginning of each school year and again at the end of the year. The school year has just ended, and we're pouring over the data, examining where we saw progress and where we didn't.
I'll post a broader review of the Project soon, but I wanted to share this fun snapshot into the minds of the young women at Mali Rising's schools. Check out this word cloud I created summarizing all 135 survey respondents from our 3 Girls Project villages:
You can learn a lot about our girls by contemplating that picture. First, our girls have been exposed to relatively few career options -- they all focus on just a few possible futures...but we're working to change that! Second, many of the careers they contemplate will not only help them, but they will help their village and Mali. Mali needs doctors, engineers, teachers, and journalists and our girls are ready to step up.
But not everything you can glean from this is quite so serious. Obviously, just like in the United States every crowd has a few kids ready to be President. And one or two dreamers are always going to shoot for the stars with dreams of being a singer or just a straight up celebrity. And, of course, you can see that quite a few girls idolize our Girls Project Coordinator, Hindaty. That's smart -- Hindaty deserves a little idolization.
Anyway, this data made me smile and I hope it made you smile too. If nothing else, it shows that kids around the world are basically the same. And we of course believe they all deserve the same chance to be what they dream of being!