Meaningful Dialogue with High School Students from the State of Minnesota

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By: Aarushi Singhania, Ben Gulla and Andrea Parker

“Know your goal and work relentlessly towards it”, says Professor Fernando Reimers, addressing a gathering of 38 high school students, 2 facilitators from Project Success, 2 Minneapolis School District specialists, and 8 students from the IEP cohort at HGSE. These high school students are either refugees and/or first generation college aspirants from State of Minnesota, Minneapolis High Schools.

The goal of bringing these students to Harvard University was to open doors of awareness, opportunities and possibilities for them to see “What it means to study at Ivy League schools?”

The gathering commenced with Prof. Reimers sharing some history, specifically regarding how the United Nations Charter was initiated. The message conveyed to students was, “to never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world.”

During the session, students from high schools were interested in knowing what are some of the biggest obstacles that Harvard students have faced in their life and what were some of the lessons learned.

I have got 18 rejections in financial industry before I got my final acceptance at a leading investment bank, said Aarushi ( IEP’18) , the lesson she learned was, “Try Again, Fail Again, Fail Better”

"I have surpassed the hardships of being the sole breadwinner for my family and adapting to the challenges this present in today’s society, when women often hold roles more traditionally held by men", said Andrea (IEP’18).

"There are things you can control and there are things you can’t", said Ben (IEP ’18). You need to be able to let go of those things beyond your influence. It took me a long time to be able to learn how to let go of those things, and focus on the choices I could make and the things I could do.

Towards the end of an hour long session, Reimers shared the need and importance of having dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals and what it means for high school to have debates and discussions about International Peace and the work of the United Nations. He also introduced students to his book, “One Student at a Time” , for them to “be rebels”  and ask teachers to teach some of these global issues or form study groups and discuss with each other.

Finally he ended the conversation by talking about the power of collaboration: “If you want to make your life and your community a better place, school is your life and you have to practice by making changes at this place.”