Panhellenic should continue its service overseas through circle of sisterhood

The ability to make a difference for the less fortunate both domestically and globally is paramount to the Panhellenic experience. It is our mission, as participants in the Circle of Sisterhood, to provide women across the world with a quality education. Our efforts abroad are not just meaningful for our volunteers – they make a critical difference in the lives of young girls.

Circle of Sisterhood doesn’t send volunteers blindly into communities across the globe. Through Circle of Sisterhood, Tulane Panhellenic sponsors volunteers who work with buildOn, an international organization specialized in the construction and management of schools in impoverished countries. Everyday, more than 175,000 students attend schools built by buildOn.

Since 2013, Panhellenic councils have contributed to the construction of more than a dozen schools, each of which is still actively educating children, primarily girls, in their respective communities. These projects are the cornerstone of Panhellenic’s international service efforts.

When people criticize these international service efforts due to the lack of return on investment, they misunderstand the poverty faced by the young women we work with and the value of education-based service projects.

Before they reach the age of 18, the girls we work frequently with face serious dangers, such as high-risk childbirth. They face wildly higher risks for domestic violence, high risks of being sold into human trafficking by their families, HIV/AIDS and so many other forms of brutality.

Thankfully, education can provide girls with the tools they need to push back against poverty.

In Mozambique, 60 percent of girls with no education fell into this cycle of child marriage, poverty and oppression, compared to 10 percent who had access to secondary school, and one percent with higher education. By helping girls face these issues, the magnitude of our cause far exceeds the building of a school.

This March, Tulane Panhellenic will be sending 16 women to Senegal, where less than a third of children currently have access to secondary education. While our volunteers will not see the school’s completion during their time in Senegal, they will help buildOn execute a sustainable plan for the education of Senegalese students for years to come.

By serving abroad, the Panhellenic community is by no means trying to devalue the importance of local service. In fact, Panhellenic students, as well as the greater Tulane student body, are making major impacts at our local schools.

Each of our sororities has its own philanthropy, advocating for children in New Orleans. These programs are often based on the importance of helping locals pursue higher education (ie: Reading is Fundamental, Read > Lead > Achieve, CASA, etc). Our Panhellenic women are certainly making their impact on the New Orleans community.

But our commitment to local aid should never prevent us from assisting girls who face desperate poverty abroad. As we move forward, Panhellenic should continue to work with Circle of Sisterhood and buildOn. If we stop the work we’re doing overseas, dozens of girls in need will never get the chance to arm themselves with the education they need.