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Forging Global Friendships

Emilie Kimball’s classes at National Cathedral School don’t start for two more weeks, but one geography class already has 70 letters written by Ghana students at Wesley Girls High School. They wrote as part of a pen-pal program Kimball started when she was in Ghana from June 19 through July 2 on an internship with Women in Progress, a nonprofit that helps women develop businesses in West Africa.

“Everyone in Ghana was really welcoming and open,” said Kimball, a rising junior at National Cathedral School from Potomac. “Everyone said hello to you, and was so helpful.”

Before Kimball left for Ghana, she collected 20 laptops donated by local families. The laptops will go to Global Mamas, a cooperative of 16 small businesses in Ghana that sell handmade clothing and apparel. Kimball used Photoshop to design a belt for Global Mamas.

Kimball, a rising junior at National Cathedral School, Kimball visited the Wesley School, an open school where the walkways between classes were concrete paths. Students wore uniforms and had identical haircuts so there is no competition for hairstyles.

Among the students and the businesswomen, Kimball was struck by the positive attitudes of those she met, most of whom lived at a fraction of the material level of wealth common to the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

“They focus on the basics and they’re just happy all the time,” Kimball said. “They’re worrying about their next meal, so they don’t have many [material] worries.”

Since returning, Kimball was one of 40 students chosen from across the nation for Take the Lead, a three-day program hosted at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Kimball will develop a six-month project promoting products of the Women in Progress program among Washington area retailers.