McClellan House Hosts Tenth-Year SEGA Dinner

This past Friday at 6:00 PM, the McClellan House hosted the annual McClellan SEGA Benefit Webinar on Zoom, marking the 10th anniversary of McClellan’s partnership with SEGA. 

This past Friday at 6:00 PM, the McClellan House hosted the annual McClellan SEGA Benefit Webinar on Zoom, marking the 10th anniversary of McClellan’s partnership with SEGA. SEGA is a non-profit organization that runs the SEGA Girls’ School for girls in Tanzania with the goal of fostering the development of strong values and independent thinking skills among their students while emphasizing leadership and environmental care. Nurturing Minds provides financial and technical assistance to SEGA and is a non-profit organization founded in the United States with a similar goal of improving the lives of Tanzanian girls through education.

The partnership between McClellan and SEGA began in 2009. English Master Pier Kooistra P’20, who was the McClellan Housemaster at the time, explained that the girls of McClellan had been taking on new philanthropic projects every year. However, Kooistra said that “dropping something meriting sustained attention struck [him] as almost criminal,” and the girls who would serve on McClellan’s 2010-2011 House Council decided that they, along with Kooistra, “would go through a very deliberate process of forming a slate of options” to decide on a non-profit to continuously support. According to Kooistra, the girls “wanted to provide a similarly world-changing kind of opportunity at Lawrenceville... to young women” around the world.

The event began with opening statements from McClellan Housemaster and Mathematics Master Charise Hall and Assistant Housemaster and Science Master Jeffrey Streeter. McClellan House President Pashmina Khan ’21, McClellan Vice President Ava Conyer ’21, and 2018-2019 McClellan Community Service Representative Jessica Bianco ’20 then reflected on their experiences in McClellan. 

Avigna Ramachandran ’21, the current Community Service Representative for McClellan, then gave a brief introduction to SEGA and introduced one of two guest speakers for the webinar, Susan Schneider. Schneider had worked as an English teacher whilst serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is a board member of Nurturing Minds. On the impact SEGA has had on its students, Schneider said, “When the girls go home to their villages, most of them have no water, no electricity, and no WiFi. Thirty-three of our students don't have enough money for food, so we, the [Nurturing Minds] board, have sent money for their food... With SEGA, the [girls] learn life skills, entrepreneurial skills, and self empowerment skills.”

Kirsten Barton, advisor to the Nurturing Minds board of directors, then explained how SEGA is coping with the impact of coronavirus. The evening ended with a question and answer session where all attendees had the opportunity to send in questions to the two Nurturing Minds representatives. 

Similar to the musical performances that usually occur at the benefit dinner, Gabby Medina ’21, Mackenzie Bunnell ’21, Samika Hariharan ’20 and Shreya Kumar ’20 gave virtual singing performances. 

On the importance of supporting an organization like SEGA, Ramachandran said, “We are prospering at Lawrenceville... and have so many opportunities here, but the girls in Tanzania are impoverished and they don’t have the same resources that we have access to, so by creating this partnership, we are able to fund their education and provide them with opportunity.”

Campbell Fitzhugh ’22, a member of the McClellan House, reflected, “It was awesome to see everyone come together from all across the world for a great cause. It was really inspiring to see everyone come together... and shows how much the McClellan House and other people involved take pride in [their] work with SEGA.”

During the school year, the McClellan House fundraises for SEGA by making and selling milkshakes on Milkshake Mondays in the Fall and Spring Term as well as hosting the annual McClellan SEGA benefit dinner. While McClellan Milkshakes can not continue virtually this Term, the House is selling McClellan Milkshakes sweatshirts designed by Delaney Musgrave ’22.

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