High School Teacher Makes "Ripples of Hope"

Ripple of Hope wave wall

The "Ripple of Hope" wave as it moves along the
corridor of Brentwood High School.

Long Island, N.Y. teacher Pamela O’Brien isn’t just educating her students about current affairs, she’s empowering students to change them. This past spring, Pam’s students at Brentwood High School started the “The Ripple of Hope Global Youth Project” with a focus on GoodWeave. The student-run project is part of Speak Truth to Power, a teacher-created curriculum connecting class assignments to global human rights issues. 

Pam was originally inspired by GoodWeave founder and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, who was profiled in Kerry Kennedy’s book "Speak Truth to Power," chronicling human rights heroes around the world. The book made Pam realize that by speaking her own truth in the classroom, she could prepare her students to do the same. “This level of empowerment is essential to students’ development of their global identity as a citizen of the world,” Pam emphasizes. 

Students cut out paper water drops – one for every dollar donated – and affixed them to a school bulletin board. The drops began to build up on the wall, creating a large wave representing the collective change of their fundraising efforts. One of Pam’s students looked at the wave and said, “I could never imagine that my voice could make such a difference.” 

Along with raising funds for GoodWeave, the students raised awareness about the power of consumer choices to stop child labor. As an educator-activist, Pam herself is a ripple of hope, setting an example not just for her students, but other teachers as well. With every educator that joins the fight against child labor, GoodWeave comes a drop closer to making a sea change in the rug industry.

Students in this Long Island classroom wrote poems connecting classic literature to modern issues. The following is an excerpt from one student’s writing on the Latin theme of caveat emptor or “buyer beware”:

Seldom was their sunshine.
A fire reaches a mountain of loss.
Kids dying every day…
And the world
Did nothing.
Be a drop, a ripple of hope.
Let the buyer beware.
— Zeira Garcia

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Children's Stories

At the age of five, Manju was already working on the rug looms. While she has since been found and freed from illegal carpet work, some 250,000 children throughout South Asia still toil in obscurity. Through GoodWeave nearly 3,600 kids like Manju have been rescued, rehabilitated and educated, and thousands more deterred from entering the work force.

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