Our new series shows what girls are up to in Turkey, India, Mexico, Brazil and Japan.
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20 June 2019 | Volume 1, Issue 24
  A note from our editor:
I may be slightly biased, but I am pretty confident we have the best readers of any publication out there. Let me tell you why.

The young women like you who read Assembly are always finding ways to support and learn from each other — whether you are sharing articles, commenting on each other’s posts or writing in to tell us what pieces inspire you. It’s amazing to see.

Today, we feature 16-year-old Zoë McClain who created art pieces based on some of her favourite Assembly articles and displayed them at her school to raise awareness about girl-led initiatives. Like I said, do we have the best readers or what?

Also in this issue, we share more stories from Roll Call, our series that gives a glimpse into girlhood around the world. Keep reading to see what your peers are up to in Brazil, India, Japan, Mexico and Turkey.

We tell you about how a cow-shaped solar power station is helping children stay in school (yes, you read that sentence correctly). And 17-year-old Argentine student Camila Codina shares her tips for becoming a coder.


Roll Call
Learn what a week is like in the lives of girls from Brazil, India, Japan, Mexico and Turkey
Roll Call
  By Hannah Orenstein
Kanon and her team put the finishing touches on their robot before leaving Japan for their regional competition in Hawaii. Hedil, a Syrian refugee, practised songs with her choir, which she joined to help improve her Turkish. And Lusi celebrated her 16th birthday thousands of miles away from her home in India — while visiting the U.K. for the Street Child Cricket World Cup.

In Assembly’s latest series, Roll Call, girls from around the world share their aspirations, struggles, fears and passions through videos and diary entries. Get to know some of the girls featured:

Hedil, 14, Syrian refugee living in Turkey
After Hedil and her family fled Syria five years ago, she had trouble making friends at school because she didn’t speak Turkish. Determined to learn the language, she found that her love of music could help her. “When my Turkish friends were listening to Turkish songs, I learnt the names of these songs and checked out the translations of lyrics in Arabic,” she said. She even joined a choir with IGAM, an organisation supported by Malala Fund that helps Syrian refugees resettle in Turkey.

Lusi, 16, India
Cricketer Lusi travelled thousands of miles to Cambridge, U.K. to represent India in the Street Child Cricket World Cup, a tournament that uses the power of cricket to tackle the stigma faced by street-connected children. She competed in thrilling matches with team India North against competitors from Nepal, England and Tanzania and delivered a speech on the issues affecting homeless children at the U.K. parliament.

Kanon, 18, Japan
It’s building season for Kanon and her robotics team, which means lots of late nights and plenty of snacks. Since graduating high school last month, Kanon has spent most of her time building robots (19 hours a day, to be precise) and competing. Her team, Sakura Tempesta, received the Chairman's Award at FIRST Robotics Regional Competition in Hawaii and qualified to compete at the world championship. In her Roll Call entry, Kanon shares her passion for engineering with a special guest — watch to find out who!

Sthefany, 19, Brazil
In Serra do Padeiro, a remote village in northeastern Brazil, Sthefany’s Indigenous Tupinambá community faces constant threat due to conflict over land ownerships. Despite the dangers, Sthefany speaks out in support of her community's right to own land. As a university student, she’s learning new skills that will help her fight for justice.

Read more.
Career spotlight
Holy cow! A cattle-shaped solar power station is helping children stay in school
Cattle-shaped solar power
  By Tess Thomas
Outside of Chemoril Primary School in northwestern Kenya sits the frame of a steel cow. It’s not a jungle gym (although students have been known to climb on it). It’s a solar-powered charging station that is helping children stay in school. Meet the Solar Cow.

Created by Sen Chang, CEO of South Korean solar energy firm YOLK, the Solar Cow initiative provides parents with free electricity in exchange for sending their children to school. Sen founded YOLK to make solar energy more accessible to everyone. After first developing Solar Paper, one of the thinnest and lightest solar chargers in the world, she decided to focus YOLK’s efforts on using solar energy to address challenges in developing countries. Looking at communities with high rates of child labour and infrequent access to electricity, Sen saw an opportunity to solve both problems. Enter the Solar Cow.

Here’s how the initiative works: Each student receives a portable 10-watt battery (shaped like a milk bottle) called Power Milk. When students arrive at school, they plug their Power Milk batteries into the Solar Cow, which charges the batteries using solar panels. After school is over, students pick up their charged Power Milk batteries and bring them home. The battery capacity is large enough to cover families’ basic energy needs, including lighting, radio and charging gadgets like cell phones.

“Receiving energy in the form of Power Milk batteries provides families with in-kind compensation for sending children to school, given that purchase of kerosene and electricity could otherwise account for 20% of households’ budgets,” Sen explains. In Kenya, where child labour affects 35% of children ages 5 to 14, this means it is more cost-effective for parents to send their children to school and receive free electricity than it is to send them to work. Since implementing the Solar Cow in December 2018, Chemoril School reports increased enrolment rates of new students and better attendance.

Read more.
Featured artist
16-year-old Zoë McClain finds a creative way to support Malala Fund’s work 
Malala Fund art
  By Zoë McClain
Inspired by the girls featured on Assembly, 16-year-old Zoë McClain wanted to find a unique way to support Malala Fund’s work. So, she turned to what she does best: drawing.

Zoë drew portraits based on some of her favourite Assembly articles for a school art show. She told attendees about the young leaders depicted in the 10-piece series and collected donations for Malala Fund. Zoë shares her beautiful creations and explains why she chose each of her subjects below.

Ada Li Yan-tung
Ada Li Yan-tung
This is 19-year-old Ada Li Yan-tung, the first of my influential girls portraits to promote Malala Fund and girls’ education. When she was just 15, she proposed the idea for panda-shaped solar farms! Her idea was widely embraced and the 50-megawatt farm, shaped like two baby pandas, now provides one million people in the northern China area with energy for half a year. How awesome is that?

Tanya Muzinda
Tanya Muzinda
13-year-old motocross racer Tanya Muzinda from Zimbabwe currently holds titles such as gold medalist in South Africa FIM Motocross of Nations and African Union Sports Council’s Junior Sportswoman of the Year. She is Zimbabwe’s first-EVER female motocross champion and is on the road to becoming the first female champion from Africa!

Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman is the first-ever U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate. She writes (obviously!) and she speaks with educators, students, and organizations across the country about the importance of arts education, literacy and poetry. Check out her writing — it’s incredibly inspiring!

Amanda Gorman
Ciara-Beth Griffin
For my last portrait in my series to support girls’ education and Malala Fund, I decided to spotlight 18-year-old Ciara-Beth Griffin. When she was 14, she was diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. One problem she saw facing those like her was an inability to make eye contact. She decided to do something about it by creating her own app. MiContact is now used by children and adults alike to practice making eye contact.

See more.
Student essay
Five things I wish I had known when I started programming
Club de Chicas Programadoras
  By Camila Codina
Technology belongs to everyone, so it saddens me when I see how few girls study the subject. At the University of Buenos Aires (where I will begin my degree later this year), only 11% of computer science students are women. This is unacceptable.

It can be challenging breaking into a field where you don’t feel welcome. I remember feeling ashamed in my computer studies class that I was getting the best grades — it wasn’t expected that a female student would enjoy or excel in the subject. I remember how lonely I felt the following year when joined a class to learn the programming language Python and I was the only girl there.

I know what it’s like to feel excluded from the world of programming — and I don’t want any other girl to feel that way. As a mentor at Club de Chicas Programadoras (Programming Girls Club), I teach teenager girls in Argentina how to program through free workshops. I start my classes by explaining how they can create apps for their smartphones with App Inventor. From there we move on to creating our own websites and games with Javascript.

When girls begin at Club de Chicas Programadoras, I can see they are timid, hesitant, afraid of making mistakes and not being smart enough. It can be intimidating to begin, so I put together a list of five things I wish I had known when I started programming:

1. It’s not difficult. A classic stereotype of programming is that you need to know a lot of mathematics and be a genius to be able to program. That’s not true. Even with basic concepts, you can create great things, like mobile games and apps.

2. There is a lot to learn. The things we can do with a computer are endless and programming is as broad as the internet. When I started programming, I thought it would be another school subject where I could grab a textbook and learn everything in a matter of weeks, but it's not like that. Each person can forge their own path and specialize in different areas — you can make web pages, be a data scientist or create video games. The list goes on and on! The limit is your passion to learn and discover new things. My favorite part of programming to learn has definitely been building websites from scratch with HTML, CSS and Javascript. And who knows? Maybe in a few years I’ll be able to create the new Facebook.

Read more.
Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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