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French Circle helps educate girls in West Africa

Stagg’s French Circle raised $94 by selling American and French cookies for a fundraiser. The money will go towards school supplies and school fees for girls from rural Niger and Bénin in West Africa.

The club is helping to support Expanding Lives, run by director and former Peace Corps volunteer Leslie Natzke. Natzke spoke to French classes last year about how many girls in rural areas of West Africa are forced to stay home and do housework and get married early. Motivated, talented girls often fall to community and cultural pressures. After Natzke spoke to French classes last year about her life and observations in Niger, Stagg French students felt inspired to help girls in these rural areas of the French-speaking world.

Expanding Lives, which runs on donations and 100% through volunteer efforts, has a team on the ground who finds talented girls, brings them to the Chicago area to participate in a girls’ mentoring and leadership program, then supports the girls as they run conferences and workshops for their peers when they return home.

“All it takes is one role model to help change the minds of community leaders” said Natzke about the importance of having girls from rural communities follow through to become professionals.

Stagg students Dareen Abdelhadi and Sham Aldos (both class of 2019), visited Chicago with Expanding Lives scholars from Niger and Bénin; Halima, Zahra, Corinne and Larissa.