Photo: Students Get Ready For Rio

Teens share their excitement at empowering women.

The issue of international women's rights has students close to home rallying for change.

Three Riverhead teens will be part of a cross-cultural experience soon as they head to Brazil for a seminar on girls' empowerment.

Charlotte Palmer, a Riverhead High School senior involved with community service through Rotary's Interact club, was one of five East End teens chosen to participate in the cross-cultural exchange.

"I'm extremely honored to have been chosen for this wonderful experience and am looking forward to delving into the issue of women's rights with girls from all around the world. I strongly believe that together we can make a difference in our communities as well as globally."

According to Nancy Lynott, director of the Southampton Town Youth Bureau -- Lynott will be chaperoning the trip on her own time, not in her official town capacity - three girls from Riverhead and two from Sag Harbor have been chosen to participate in the event.

"The purpose of the seminar is to engage youth from around the world to build understanding between countries, increase leadership skills, and prepare girls to be positive agents of change," Lynott said. "The premise is that educating and empowering girls not only achieves better outcomes for them, but for their communities. And cross-cultural understanding leads to better international relationships."

D'aja Mitchner, 16 and a junior at Riverhead High School, said she is thrilled to be traveling to Brazil with the group. "This is an amazing opportunity and I am so thankful to be one of the chosen to go on this all-expense paid trip. You may never know how what you do can change and positively affect people's lives. I am so excited to be handed this chance to better the world today, for the world tomorrow."

The five local students are part of a 30-member delegation of high school girls that will travel from the United States to Rio de Janeiro to join their counterparts from Latin America, Jordan, and the Ukraine.

Riverhead participants include Jordan Tapley, Mitchner, and Palmer; Sag Harbor delegates are Lindsay Cox and Elizabeth Grigonis.

The seminar is sponsored by the United States Embassy in Brazil and the Brazilian Department of Human Rights, Lynott said; the U.S. Department of State and the Mary Kay Foundation are slated to cover all travel expenses, while the Brazilian government will fund all seminar expenses.

"It's an exciting opportunity for them to have been selected and part of their charge is to share what they've learned in their home community," Lynott said. "These girls are getting a great opportunity to interact with girls and women from all over the world, which will broaden their world view and help them understand that their way of looking at things is not the only way to see them. They will also develop leadership skills and learn about the important roles girls and women can play in making the world a stronger and better place. And how not all the young women in the world have access to the same opportunities that they do."



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