Spring 2018 University of Notre Dame

“International Development and Design Thinking Class”

working with Girls Education in Nigeria

Emily Pohl

Major: International Economics (with a concentration in French)

Minor: International Development

Year: Sophomore

Emily has a strong belief in the importance and transformative power of education and is excited to have the opportunity to contribute her insight towards a cause as meaningful and pertinent as improving girl’s education in Nigeria. After centering her final project in her last International Development class on the challenges that inhibit Liberian girl’s access to and quality of education, Emily began to understand the immense and complex issues that tie into the pursuit of education and sought to take an active role in navigating around the barriers faced by marginalized women. Through personal experience, research, and observation, Emily notes that educational barriers are steeper for girls, especially those who live in countries affected by chaos or face developmental obstacles, and hopes to design a plan that addresses relevant issues such as confining cultural and gender norms, lacking infrastructure, threatening violence, and poverty. She has come to appreciate the influence and change that things as simple as female accompaniment, solidarity, and collaboration can generate and hopes to integrate those actions and considerations into the work she does and her team’s final recommendation.  

Kyersten Siebenaler

Major: International Economics with a concentration in Spanish

Minor: International Development

Kyersten is eager to learn about and work collaboratively on the topic of women’s education in Borno State. In a previous international development class, Kyersten chose to complete her semester-long research project on Boko Haram as a result of her interest in religious violence and community restoration. This project also focused on evaluating post-conflict community programs that have been used in the past in other countries. As an international economics student, Kyersten has come to understand education’s crucial role in poverty alleviation and economic growth, but also recognizes the potential of education to establish hope, community, and restore and protect human dignity. Through spending her summer in Ecuador in a marginalized indigenous community, Kyersten has witnessed firsthand the widespread effects of collective trauma, and strives to innovate solutions that are focused on empowerment and healing. Kyersten is excited to learn from those with a wealth of knowledge about Nigerian culture and life so that her team may come closer to understanding the complexities of the issues at hand.

Francesco Tassi

Major: International Economics with a concentration in    Italian, Peace Studies

Minor: International Development Studies

Year: Senior

Francesco is looking forward to collaborate on the significant yet complex challenge of girls’ reintegration into education and society within the Borno state. Having worked with and researched issues surrounding displaced peoples, including Sub-Saharan forced migrants’ opportunity costs to education in Italy last summer, Francesco is eager to participate in the initiative, and learn from Nigerians here at Notre Dame and abroad how girls’ education can be tailored to be made most meaningful in the context of the Borno State. Through an economic and peace-studies lens, mitigated by having lived in dissimilar cultures, Francesco has approached protracted issues in his research from unique and integrated angles. His research into IDP camp economies and NGO/local authority partnerships has reaffirmed his belief in any intervention to develop IDPs to be community-based, and heavily involved in partnerships across state and local initiatives. Understanding that there is a unique opportunity cost to education depending on one’s situation in life, Francesco is curious to learn more about how education can be integrated with informal support networks to strengthen a reintegration program.

Casey Kennedy

Major: Political Science

Minor: International Development Studies

Casey is excited about the opportunity to work with Girl Child Concerns on girls’ education in the Borno State of Nigeria. Through working on a research project looking at types of education in Sub-Saharan Africa--especially Kenya--Casey has come to understand the effects of education not just on academic and economic opportunities, but on civic engagement, civic knowledge, inter-ethnic trust, and the well-being of future generations. Through this research, Casey has developed a more empirical understanding of the broad importance of education. Through interning and conducting research in Tanzania and Kenya on child welfare, she has become particularly passionate about the care, protection, and empowerment of youth in vulnerable situations. She believes the government and civil society must work collaboratively for the welfare of children to be best met. Casey hopes to use these experiences to positively to contribute to this project, but is most looking forward to learning from the diverse group of experts involved in established this new secondary school and its curriculum.