With the backing of a supportive community, an inspired teen can go a long way. Mashal was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her family moved to the U.S. when Mashal was just one year old; she grew up in Queens, New York. At age 17, she joined the Global Citizen Corps, a national network of youth who educate and mobilize their schools and communities to fight global poverty. The summer of 2005, she attended GCC’s annual Global Poverty Summit for the first time, which brings together 50 of the nation's most promising and inspiring teen leaders for a weeklong intensive anti-poverty workshop. The teens learn about poverty issues and receive expert training in how to become effective leaders and peer-educators in the fight against global poverty.
With GCC’s support, Mashal began raising awareness around poverty-related topics at her high school. As part of her school’s Global Action Amnesty Club, she put on a school-wide event recognizing World Aids Day and raised money for AIDS orphans in Uganda. Her personal passion emerged: raising awareness about access to education. “It was a small private school,” she says. “I wanted to make students aware that we were so fortunate to have such a great education. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world—like in Afghanistan—education is a privilege, not a right.”
Her involvement in the Global Citizen Corps transformed her into a person who acts—and she says she couldn’t have done it without help. “I really owe it to the Summit and the GCC, and the trainings and contacts I made there. When you’re a teen you have all these ideas but you don’t know how to implement them,” she says. Now, she says, “Advocacy is a part of me. I am always going to advocate for my most passionate cause: improving all peoples’ access to education.”
Now 20, Mashal is a junior at Adelphi University in New York City, studying sociology with the aspiration to someday be a physician with the World Health Organization. As an Alumni GCC Leader, Mashal traveled to Scotland last November to the first Global Poverty Summit in Europe. She passed on to her European peers what she’s learned from her poverty-fighting efforts—taking them to a truly global level.