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Connections can form in all settings and environments-locally in your community and overseas thousand of miles from wherever we call home. Have you ever wondered What does an impactful connection look like? It happens when you take risks, expand your reach, and take advantage of every opportunity present. A young woman, Cherelys Dwarka Sing, made an impactful connection when she traveled to the United States from Suriname as a Fellows with Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) and was placed at Educate Tomorrow for her fellowship experience where she connected with STEM Access For Girls Founder. provide
As a fellow for YLAI, Cherelys was placed at Educate Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that provides educational opportunities to disadvantaged children due to her experience and background. With the supervision of Mr. Devin Floyd and the support of the Educate Tomorrow team, Cherelys embarked on a journey she would never forget. Claudia Gourdet, who was the IT/App Coordinator for Educate at that time was tasked with onboarding Cherelys and supporting her through her experience. Little did they both know they shared common characteristics and traits; they both had a passion for technology. Claudia Gourdet shared the work that she was doing in Haiti with her organization STEM Access For Girls with Cherelys and how the organization who was only active for two years old at that time was interested in expanding sharing STEM with disadvantaged girls. Excited about the work of STEM Access for Girls Cherelys wanted to get involved.
Upon her return to Suriname, she learned about the U.S. Department of State proposal for the SAAA Small Grants Program. “The purpose of the SAAA Small Grants Program is to improve society, government institutions, the economy, and the culture of Suriname, and/or inform Surinamese audiences about the United States, its culture, society, government, legal, economic and political systems, and values. At that time there were no STEM programs in Suriname; this was an opportunity to introduce Suriname to STEM.
Cherelys Kept in communication with the Founder of STEM Access For Girls, Claudia Gourdet and they discussed the possibility of expanding the STEM Access For Girls organization to Suriname. After many discussions and planning they decided to launch a STEM Access For Girls and pilot the program under the name “STEAM Access for Girls in Sunny Point.” to introduce STEM to Suriname and incorporate the arts. The pilot program STEAM Access for Girls was designed to assist young girls to think about how to create jobs, how to connect to the global world, and how to obtain the resources necessary to boost Suriname’s sustainable economy. This project was intended to bring a STEAM-based training curriculum to girls between the ages of 9 – 12 years old in Sunny Point. The hands-on workshops were going to help the girls develop the spatial logics and critical skills necessary for a STEAM career path. Cherelys was going to serve as the Program Manager with the support of the U.S. team and program Founder Claudia Gourdet.
Finally, after patiently waiting for a decision they were notified of being a recipient of the SAAA award. On Friday, 12 October 2018, STEM Access For Girls was announced as a winner by the Suriname America Alumni Association (SAAA) as one of the organizations to receive the SAAA Small Grants Program. In 2018, the very first STEM program was launched and introduced in Suriname serving over 30 youth in Sunny point with over 15 Surinamese Peer Mentor ready to educate Suriname future leaders.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
― Herman Melville