GCC Students Take Action

On May 10th and 11th, the 2016-2017 GCC year-long program on Complex Emergencies came to a close during the Community Action Plan (CAP) Virtual Showcase. Fourteen schools from Boston, Chicago and NYC developed and implemented Community Action Plans in their learning communities and twelve schools attended the Virtual Showcase to share their projects. GCC encouraged students to EDUCATE, ADVOCATE or FUNDRAISE  within their communities for issues and impacts related to complex emergencies. Students, with the guidance of their dedicated teachers, took on the challenge.  Students utilized the skills and knowledge that they learned in the last several months to take direct action in their cities and towns which undoubtedly had far reaching effects. Here is a look at some of their projects:

Trevor Day School NYC


Students from Trevor Day School, NYC under the direction of their teacher Robert Sierakowski, implemented the Messages of Hope Project to encourage young Syrian refugees. At the Trevor Day School spring Fair students raised donations of $5 each to purchase cards created by the students to write messages of hope. Through their project, students were able to educate their learning community on the plight of Syrian refugees while raising funds for their school and provided heartfelt messages of hope, solidarity and encouragement. Concern Worldwide staff members are distributing the messages to young refugees on the ground in Lebanon this month.

Weston High School


Kim Young and her Grade 9 Honors World History students from Weston High School in Massachusetts held a school wide Forced Migration Symposium and Refugee Walk Simulation. Parents, community members and other high schools also attended the event, broadening their educational and advocacy outreach. Students were involved with researching appropriate speakers and contacting them to speak at the symposium. Students also introduced speakers and held break out sessions to discuss the issues of forced displacement in Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Maldives, El Salvador, Somalia and the Navajo Nation.  Students also conducted a Refugee Walk Simulation around the track at their high school. Students were able to secure sponsors to raise funds as well as awareness and together students completed over 300 laps. Students remarked that after taking place in the walk that they felt a deeper connection and understanding of the physical challenges of being a refugee.



Maine West High School in Chicago under the direction of educator Gwynne Ryan launched the Uplift Youth Campaign at their school. Students raised awareness and funds for those affected by complex emergencies by asking their community to purchase a hand where they displayed their inspiring and uplifting slogans and messages and in a banner. It was amazing to see the students working together to achieve their mission. Maine West students sold a total of 316 hands and raised over $600!

McCall Middle School - Boston

McCall Middle School – Boston

Students at Carl Schurz High School in Chicago taught lessons to their classmates, shining a spotlight on the ongoing crisis in South Sudan with the help of their teacher Kate Beazley. The lessons focused on extreme poverty, displacement, and child survival. Students learned that children under five years old are the most vulnerable and that a child dies every five minutes due to extreme poverty. Young student activists at McCall Middle School in Winchester, Massachusetts presented a comprehensive overview of complex emergencies around the world during their school’s geography night. Students highlighted the importance of humanity and dignity when sharing stories of suffering individuals making certain to communicate the resilience of communities who experience disasters. The students raised $110 by selling baked goods and educated students and parents alike.



Lynn Tiede’s class at Colombia Secondary School in NYC for the third consecutive year raised awareness of the global water crisis and the basic rights of young people to enjoy water and education. In the past they sponsored schools in Ethiopia and Nicaragua while this year they provided water to a school in Uganda. Boston College High School in Boston were intrigued with what they had learned about the role of national boundaries in the complex emergencies. They wanted to take this knowledge and apply it to our own national border issues and its relationship to our hemisphere’s own complex emergencies to which our own national policies are contributing. Students built a faux border wall that was placed in the student commons, which is the most visible and visited part of their campus. Students dressed in costumes to represent different interests and populations effected. Students displayed a slide show that ran continuously throughout the performance, set up an information desk where they provided additional information and resources to interested community members including petitions to political representatives.



These are just a few of the incredibly inspiring actions taken by GCC students this year in Boston, Chicago and NYC. Several schools raised funds, educated their communities on the subject of complex emergencies and refugee situations, and advocated for people globally who are affected by armed conflict, natural disasters, displacement, food scarcity and the collapse of basic health services. Populations globally experience a combination of instabilities which interact with each other simultaneously with multiple, and often intractable, demographic, environmental, economic, and social instabilities giving rise to the term complex humanitarian emergencies.

A sincere thank you to all of our GCC educators in Boston, Chicago, and New York who dedicated countless hours to their students and the GCC Year-Long Program making it a great success. Congratulations to our GCC students this year for all your outstanding efforts and accomplishments. We are so very proud of all of you and are truly lucky to have each of you as part of the Concern Worldwide family combating extreme poverty. We look forward to celebrating your future endeavors as active global citizens and agents for positive change.

Please see more of the incredible Community Action Plans below from our GCC students in all 3 cities which include, social media campaigns, fundraisers, PSA videos and more!

Watch a video of students at  St. Jean Baptiste from NYC  making “Friendship Bracelets” which they sold to raise funds and awareness.

Watch students at Trevor Day School from NYC describe their refugee outreach campaign.

Watch the video from The Ursuline School in NYC about the lasting effects of complex emergencies on communities globally.

Watch the video submitted by LIFE Home School Co-op – Boston on their fundraiser, advocacy and education campaign.

Watch the video from Scales Mound High School in Chicago educating their learning community about Non-governmental Organizations and humanitarian relief.