Madiha Murshed & Dana Mortenson, World Savvy
Each one of us has defining life moments. For Madiha Murshed and Dana Mortenson, it was the rising levels of xenophobia they observed in New York City following the September 11th attacks. Neighbors became afraid of neighbors, Middle-Eastern looking taxi cab drivers were being pulled out of their vehicles and beaten up.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2042, no single ethnic or racial group will comprise a majority. Diversity is our common future. Global learning is no longer a luxury, but is essential preparation for a changing world.To meet this need, Mahida and Dana started an amazing nonprofit called World Savvy. World Savvy assists middle and high-school students acquire a truly global education via its World Savvy Classrooms, World Savvy Partnerships and The Global Competence Certificate Program. For example, the World Savvy Classroom combines professional development and consulting for educators with multi-disciplinary projects for students. Some projects bring young people together from different backgrounds, helping them find commonalities and connections. The youth are taught to respect each other, appreciate cultural differences and learn together.
In just over a decade World Savvy has grown from serving 90 students and 20 teachers to more than 405,000 youth and nearly 3,000 teachers.
It’s education programs and services help our young people learn how to think about important global issues, rather than what to think about these complex issues--issues that are often left unaddressed by our school system.
Give Greatly recently had the opportunity to catch-up with Dana and ask her about what motivates her to continue this important work, especially on the tough days. Dana recalled a story about a World Savvy program that brought together hundreds of youth from varied ethnic, cultural, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. One young man from an economically depressed community, was paired with a group of students from very different socioeconomic backgrounds, and they were all asked to solve a problem together. The young man said that in 10 years of going to school, no one had ever asked him what he thought about these important issues or to participate in finding solutions. He relayed that the program made him feel legitimized and valued, and that he saw how important his perspective could be to solving problems in his community and beyond.
Dana’s commitment to these students is abundantly clear, as she so eloquently stated:
When I asked Dana why her, why World Savvy and why education, she said she is deeply inspired by her co-founder and by her father, who “instilled a sense of the value of education and the importance of equity early on for me. The idea that education can and should be the great leveler in society --a chance for everyone to build the skills and capacity to thrive.”
To learn more about World Savvy is up to, its programs and services, check out its website here and a short video here.