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Georgia 4-H program delivers global awareness
By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Dimple Bansal spent a weekend in August going through the Georgia 4-H Global Ambassadors Program. Inspired by the knowledge and experience, she organized an Operation Christmas Child gift box drive at her high school this month.

“Being a global ambassador motivated me to go out and do more things for the global world,” said Bansal, who attends Berkmar High School in Lilburn, Ga. “You feel good when you’re not giving to yourself, when you imagine a child’s face when they see a box of toys only for him or her.”

Operation Christmas Child collects shoeboxes filled with toys to send to children around the world in desperate situations, places such as war-torn countries and regions devastated by natural disasters.

Bansal and four other Georgia 4-H’ers are the first to take the 36-hour program. The other high school participants were Nick Evans from Clayton County, Ethan Craigue from Coffee County, John Scott from Madison County and Jerico Phillips from Carroll County.

“I’m very proud of her,” said Jeff Buckley, who is the 4-H global and citizenship programs coordinator with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “I was very impressed with the overall level of knowledge of global issues that all the ambassadors brought to our training weekend. It made me feel good about youth in general, about the future.”

During the program, the ambassadors learn and debate global topics and how they impact life in Georgia. “One of the main goals of this is to help Georgia 4-H’ers become more competitive,” Buckley said.

Buckley charged the ambassadors to first do something in their communities. They have a few months left to complete their projects.

“I encouraged them to do a project they were interested in,” Buckley said, “exposing them to some options that they could take back to their counties.”

With her project, Bansal has shown her friends that there’s more to life than just high school and that being globally involved is important. “Some people at my school, they haven’t been outside Atlanta,” she said.

But Bansal has.

In 2001, she moved to Valdosta, Ga., from India. One of the first extracurricular activities she chose in south Georgia was 4-H. She’s been involved since.

Buckley said 4-H is doing other things to increase Georgia students’ awareness of cultures, languages and traditions other than their own. For examples, students can participate in exchange programs or monitored online correspondence.

For more information on Georgia 4-H global programs, go to the Web site www.georgia4hinternational.org or call (706) 542-8735.

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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