By Carolyn Belardo
The Women In Natural Sciences students involved in an intensive program of study about climate change had already received their reward: They spent last year using the Internet and social media to correspond with high school girls in Mongolia to learn how climate change was affecting that country, as well as their own.
Then some of the WINS students even traveled to Ulaanbaatar—and vice versa—to meet the girls in person.
Now it was time to reward the Academy of Natural Sciences staff who made that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity possible for the girls.
>> And the Drexel University President’s Award for Intercultural Engagement and Diversity goes to: Dr. Jacquie Genovesi, Betsy Payne, Muhntuya Goulden, Katie Woolf, and Desi Broadhurst for their work on the Women In Natural Sciences initiative in Mongolia. <<
Drexel’s biennial President’s Award honors significant contributions that promote awareness of and respect for diversity, create opportunities for intercultural engagement, and build upon the university’s founding principle of inclusion. The Academy team was chosen from among a pool of well-deserving faculty and staff, who were nominated by their peers.
In accepting the award at an October ceremony, WINS Manager Payne said the whole project kick-started with a grant through the Museums Connect program of the Department of State, through the American Alliance of Museums.
“Through the project, we connected the National Museum of Mongolia with the Academy of Natural Sciences, which has a long history of research with and within Mongolia,” Payne explained. “Academy scientists have been studying the effects of climate change in Mongolia for over 20 years.”
The Academy’s WINS program was used as a model to start a similar group of young women at the National Museum of Mongolia, and together the groups learned about climate change, specifically on the subjects of water and food. The Mongolian program was dubbed ROOTS.
“We connected them as ‘pen pals’ through Facebook, Skype and email, and then got them working on lessons together using Drexel’s Partners platform. Lessons were developed in conjunction with interns in collaboration with educators and scientists,” Payne said.
In March 2015, five Mongolian students came to Philadelphia, and in July last year five WINS Philly public school students went to their country.
“As any great adventure, it takes a team,” Payne noted. The grant proposal had to be written, partnerships in Mongolia built, lessons planned, flight arrangements made, bills paid, the students prepared, and other endless details. These were accomplished by:
-Genovesi, Academy Vice President for Education
-Goulden Museums Connect Project Program Coordinator, National Museum of Mongolia
-Woolf, Drexel student
-Broadhurst, Academy Education Department Administrative Assistant
Payne was responsible for coordinating the program, getting all 30 girls “into a tight knit group,” and organizing the Philadelphia trip and its lessons.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Academy’s education and research programs in Mongolia, here are some previous posts:
Teen Exchange on Climate Change, December 2014
Teen Trek to Mongolia March 2015
Hosting Mongolian Teens March 2015
Mongolian Ambassadors Tour the Academy, May 2015
Connecting Cultures, July 2015
Climate Change in Mongolia, April 2016
Un-Muddying Waters, April 2016