London Exchange 2019

In its 6th year, the London Exchange program from January 12th to 21st was once again a massive success, with six students traveling across the pond to tour universities, visit museums, and experience cultural differences between the United States and Great Britain. As a part of Project Rousseau’s Broadening Horizons pillar, many students who have never had the chance to travel abroad before are able to visit another country and educate themselves on the education, history, and culture of their exchange peers, in this case, from St. Paul’s School for Girls and the City of London School for Boys.

On the London trip, students were able to visit Oxford University, experiencing a different type of education than what they are used to in the United States. Our student Taina particularly appreciated the seminar-style class structure. Maya’s favorite aspect of the Oxford tour was its food, surprisingly! Overall, our students absorbed the work ethic of their British peers, and hope to take this style of learning back into their classrooms here in the US.

Another exciting aspect of the Exchange was in visiting many historical spots in London and also in visiting many of the city’s most renowned museums. Students visited an Anglo-Saxon exhibit in the British Library, learned about the World Wars at the Imperial War Museum, and even saw the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum! Muntafa even visited the Lord’s Cricket Ground! To promote hands-on learning about government, we spent a whole day in Parliament, sitting in on debates. Many students made the connection between what they learn in their government courses and what was happening on the Parliament floor, so this proves it was a very worthwhile experience!

Of course, students also had plenty of time for exploring and fun, with many commenting that the legacy of the trip will be with the connections they made with their hosts. Tsunami took away that many people’s cultures are different than her own and that this trip helped her remove any misconceptions from her mind that she had about the people of London. Interacting with hosts was particularly educational for Taina, who explained, “I'm not necessarily a very social person, and I've always struggled with interacting and connecting with people, but this experience definitely helped me realize that my people skills really aren't that bad. It's easy to connect with people, like I did with my host sister, when you're in a new surrounding!”

Clearly, the 2019 London Exchange was a success, with students not only learning about the history and education of their British peers, but interacting with them on a deeper level and gaining more cultural understanding.

Project Rousseau students with their London peers.

Project Rousseau students with their London peers.

Annual Report 2018


2018 has been another spectacular year for our students. We have seen inspiring firsts in all of our academic outcome metrics, in higher education admissions, and in all of our new programming. We have seen equally inspiring work in continuing our programming from 2017. Our students never cease to amaze us and create a great sense of pride in our staff and –most importantly of all- in themselves.

We invite you to look through our Annual Report to learn more about what our students have accomplished in 2018, and to see the extraordinary futures that they are creating for themselves. Most importantly, our students’ successes would not be possible without your myriad forms of support, and we look forward to seeing you continue to be a part of our students’ lives.

Hearst Tower College Essay Bootcamp


We had a great time Hearst Tower last Thursday editing our college essays and other applications. As you can see we had a very exciting list of goals for the evening, from submitting Harvard, Duke and Princeton applications to registering for the TASC High School equivalency test. All of our students worked extremely hard to meet their targets.

We were also very pleased to have a number of our alumni join us to help with editing and share their college experiences with us.

Thank you very much to Mark and Maureen at Hearst's Office of General Counsel for hosting us.

Congratulations Jahnya, our latest Questbridge Scholar


We are extremely excited to announce that Jahnya has matched with Dartmouth and will join a number of our alumni as Questbridge Scholars.

Jahnya has worked extremely hard during her high school years to get to this point. We are very proud of her dedication to SAT Prep, Community Service and Broadening Horizons that has helped her get to Dartmouth!

Jahnya has had the most of the many exciting opportunities and ample support she has received through Project Rousseau. In the last few months alone she has interned at the European Parliament, lead our Global Issues Network team and, of course, worked very hard on her college applications. Jahnya says "Austin (Project Rousseau's Academic Coordinator) really helped me separate my ideas for my essays and it allowed me to see what I really wanted to emphasize. His help has really meant a lot to me, I know that has helped me more than anything else!"

Congratulations Jahnya! We are very proud of you and your hard work. We look forward to supporting you in the next, exciting stage of your education at Dartmouth!

47687309_2780485588643869_6461641686807216128_o.jpg

Pie Day 2018

image00093.jpg

This year marked Project Rousseau’s 7th Annual Pie Day. Over 75 volunteers gathered together to bring the holiday spirit to local homeless shelters in NYC. As crusts were rolled, apples chopped and pies filled the room became filled with more laughter, fun and a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. In the end, we had yet another record-breaking year with 646 pies baked and distributed to the homeless.

Despite the hectic day, we paused to take a moment to honor some of the hard-working members of the Project Rousseau community. Alejandro Zarate, a member of the Project Rousseau family since 2013, was awarded the Zach Brokaw Award. This award is named in honor of a volunteer who passed away in 2015, and the exceptional commitment and care that Alejandro has shown towards our students resonates in every way with the way that Zach supported those he served.

This year’s recipient of the Jean Prendergast Award for Excellence in Community Service goes to New York City student Assul! Over the past year, Assul has gone above and beyond expectations in community service. Not only has she attended Project Rousseau community service events, but she pioneered a STEM mentoring initiative for middle school students near her. Assul, a lover of all things STEM, felt that her own STEM education could have benefitted from a mentor, leading her to create an opportunity for younger kids to learn more about STEM. Assul has displayed motivation, resourcefulness, and a sense of creativity that namesake of the award Jean Prendergast would be proud of!

We want to congratulate both our recipients as well as all our student and adult volunteers who helped make Pie Day 2018 our biggest one yet.

NYC Broadening Horizons

September marks the start of the new year for Project Rousseau. This month we have been pleased to welcome many new students from our partner schools who have enthusiastically engaged in many of our programs.

We have had a particularly busy month for Broadening Horizons activities, often a favorite for our new students who are exploring their local area and the opportunities within it for the first time.

41507275_2602793873079709_6910597105044160512_o.jpg

We started the month with a trip to the Natural History Museum Planetarium where they were able to experience the incredible astrophysical resources that are available at the Hayden Planetarium. The students enjoyed viewing the depths of space from right here in NYC!

42238191_2616781948347568_5895723868034695168_n.jpg

Next, we combined our Community Service and Broadening Horizons pillars as our students were invited to attend the 2018 Peace First Summit based on the positive work they have been doing in their own communities here in NYC. The day was focused on young leaders who are working to create a brighter, more peaceful future across the world. A selection of trailblazing young leaders took to the stage to speak about their pain, triumphs and the ways they have learned to use compassion, courage, and collaboration to create lasting change in their schools and communities. There was also a number of amazing performances by musicians and dancers from across the country, showing just what you can achieve if you put your mind to it! It was an incredibly inspiring day full of great ideas, initiatives and hope for a brighter future!

The month ended with a visit from our Danish partner school, Rysensteen Gymnasium. Project Rousseau Student Leaders had an amazing time greeting and touring our 24 Danish student visitors around Harlem.

Student Leaders took the visitors to Washington Heights and Manhattanville to teach them about the vibrant history present in the two areas. Along the way, they visited a few local parks and showcased some of the significant works of graffiti art. The students had an opportunity to discuss the meaning behind the publicly displayed works. Additionally, the Danish students were able to see Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater.

After a long day of lively learning and conversation, the students ate together at Tom’s Diner, where they took a group photo to commemorate the eventful day. The annual visit from Danish students is a wonderful Project Rousseau tradition that creates meaningful bonds between internationally diverse students.

44393566_2672946642731098_1810009354380771328_o.jpg

Summer Programs

The summer may be here but that doesn’t mean the hard work stops for our students. While many of our students have been discovering new countries, their peers have also been making the most of what Project Rousseau has to offer in their own communities.

Throughout the summer we offer a drop-in program for students. This can include anything from extra SAT prep to help signing up for soup kitchens. Summer hunger and safety in their own neighborhoods are often problems for many of our students and for that reason we make sure that all of our summer programs offer even more free food than usual and a safe, quiet place for those who need it.

IMG_8221.JPG

Drop-in time also allows for students to work together. Here at Project Rousseau, we really value peer-to-peer tutoring, below Chinelo is helping her peers with some schoolwork. Peer tutoring is such a useful tool that can aid both the teacher and the student. By helping the other students, Chinelo is further solidifying her knowledge in a specific subject, and the other students are getting help from someone they can relate to. We have had a number of older Project Rousseau students participate in peer tutoring over the summer and they have all done a great job!

39442637_2550960138263083_1037550707282018304_o.jpg

Additionally, our Broadening Horizons pillar continues throughout the summer. The extra time allows us to expand beyond our usual sites. Recently a small group of Project Rousseau students recently enjoyed a day trip to Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey! The students had the opportunity to explore the beautiful campus via a student-lead tour and also attend an information talk on undergraduate programs and entry requirements. Despite the on and off rain, it was a great day, where everyone learned a lot and got some great pictures too!

Similarly, we are always thankful to our partner organization Kids In Seats for the wonderful experiences they offer our students. Over the summer we were fortunate to attend many sports games, including a suite at the Yankee Stadium

44500738_2678716695487426_3257578762388111360_o.jpg

European Parliament Internship 2018

This year our students participated in our second European Parliament Internship program spending three weeks in Brussels learning the workings of the European Union and furthering their understanding of international relations and politics. 

IMG_2054.jpg

Over the course of the program the students listened to a number of debates, committee meetings and other parliamentary activities on a wide range of topics. We learned about the importance of "Ethics Dumping," Cultural Heritage and the early detection of cancer of unknown primary. The students listened eagerly as they heard esteemed speakers, experts and Members of European Parliament shared their views on topics such as the economic impact of joining the EU for Azerbaijan, reform in the education of young offenders and nuclear deterrence. Throughout the week the students learned many valuable skills which will carry them well through the remainder of their high school careers and beyond. Importantly, the students showed an appreciation of engaging critically with what they were hearing and learning and our dinners each evening would feature heated and knowledgable debates on the day’s proceedings! 

IMG_2007.jpg
IMG_2073.jpg
opera.jpg

In addition to attending European Parliament the students spent time exploring the many cultural institutions of Brussels, including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and a night at the opera at La Monnaie. The trip also allowed the students to develop a range of skills outside of academics which will set them well for college - each evening the group would prepare dinner together. Over the duration of the trip we shared cuisine from many of the students' home countries and many of the group showed great leadership in the kitchen and in keeping our living areas in tip-top condition. We strongly believe that these skills are also vital for a strong transition to college and independent living. 

 

Teaching English at King’s Academy, Jordan

For the second year, Project Rousseau was very proud to send one of our college students to King’s Academy in Amman, Jordan to teach English to low-income students in Jordan as part of King’s Summer Enrichment Program (SEP). This year, Eliana, a senior at Georgetown University, represented Project Rousseau at SEP.

Eliana spent two weeks teaching at King’s Academy. As a former English Language Learner student herself when she first came to the United States, Eliana found the experience rewarding and very close to home.

King’s Academy says: "We were very lucky to have Eliana among our cohort of SEP teachers this past summers, she was amazing! From the first day of SEP she jumped right in and was one of the most involved teachers. Her students loved her and I am sure many will stay in touch with her for a while!”

We look forward to seeing our students continue to teach at SEP in the years to come. Thank you, King’s, for this extraordinary opportunity for our students to give back in a meaningful way while developing valuable professional skiils!

Yale Day of Service

As a special Broadening Horizons experience, Project Rousseau students participated in a Career Day with Yale alumni and current students as part of the annual Yale Day of Service event . Recent Yale graduates and older ones alike came together to create a memorable day. Yale students and graduates in the fields of finance, law, health, journalism, and architecture provided the students with information about how to apply, life at Yale, and options after graduating. After being split into groups for the first exercise, the students rotated around to speak with every group of alumni and current students. During this, alumni told Project Rousseau students about their specific experiences at Yale in relation to their majors. They also gave tips on how to apply to Yale and how to know if it is the right place for you. Advice ranged from time management skills to what life is like as a Yale student. For the second activity, students picked who they wanted to talk to, either graduates or current students. The former talked about how to apply to jobs once graduating while the second elaborated on how to apply top schools like Yale. The event was especially helpful for students currently applying to college, and even those curious about life after college!

YDS1 (1).JPG
I went into the experience expecting the same advice that I was given before, but found myself learning much more about what it means to be a college student and how to find your true passion.
— Rony
The career day was great! While I am already finished with the college application process, I received a lot of advice on how to transition from high school to college, such as how to chose friends or navigate the new social scene. In addition, I also was given advice on how to determine if I wanted to attend graduate school in the future, taking into account both the price of school itself vs the potential career benefits down the road
— Rose
IMG_7789 (1).JPG
IMG_7781 (1).JPG
I managed to learn about different fields and found some that fit my personality. I also got to sit down with one of the alumni to discuss various internships that I could do since I will be taking a GAP year. Some include ACLU organization, Planned Parenthood, Henry Street Settlement etc. It was a great experience and I walked out with their business cards in case if I needed support in the future.
— Angelica