On the night of January 17th, High School Senior Lena Cheyne made a presentation on The International Trafficking of Women and Children at the Cornwall Grail Center. Following are some of the steps it took for this shy teenager to arrive at such an important turning point in her life.
In March, 2010 Lena Cheyne attended an Introduction to the Grail program at the Cornwall Center. She had been “persuaded” by her mother, Cindy Cheyne (who had just begun to do volunteer work atCornwall), to attend. Initially unhappy, Lena sat through the entire program beside her friend Kim whom she had “dragged along” (Lena’s words) with her. Present at the program were a number of young international participants at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.
Also present at the program was Boston Grail member Mary Farrell (in her capacity as Cornwall connection on the National Leadership Team at that time). When it was over—during a mix and mingle moment —Mary and Lena struck up a conversation about a book Mary was reading, Half the Sky, and a play dealing with sex trafficking that Mary had recently seen at Grailville.Lena was intrigued enough by the conversation to do more research and ultimately decided to make International Trafficking of Women and Children her Global Studies project at school.
The following year, Lena and her mother Cindy (who was now on the staff of the Center) asked if they could participate in the 2011 Commission on the Status of Women held at the UN headquarters in NYC. Each year the Grail Link to the UN (GLUN) participates in this two-week event, organizing workshops, panel discussions, and other events. Since 2007, GLUN has been sponsoring girls from many different countries, ages 14 to 18, to attend the CSW and participate in its work. We, of course, were thrilled by Lena’s desire to attend. But we told her she could go on one condition: that she lead a program here on human trafficking before she graduated from high school. She agreed, somewhat reluctantly, due to trepidation about speaking in public. Meanwhile, through her international experience at the CSW, Lena decided to pursue International Relations as a future career, setting her sights on JohnCabotUniversityin Rome. She traveled to Italythe following summer (with mother Cindy, of course) to visit the school and to spend time on the eco-farm of a friend she had made at the CSW—Sara, daughter of Italo-
Brazilian Grail member, Rosie Rodriguez.
Throughout these two yearsLenahas eagerly participated in other programs and projects at the Center. But it wasn’t until recently that she finally set a date for HER program….
…when WE told her that she wouldn’t be going to CSW 2012 unless she did it!
And—despite nerves and a few technical glitches–LenaDID IT splendidly!!!
So much so that during the Q & A, Mary Kay Louchart suggested some other places where she might consider repeating her presentation on this important topic, including theBronx, of course.
One more Grail Team to touch, and be touched by, the life of a promising young woman. And proud mother, Cindy?
Why, she’ll be making her commitment in The Grail this Spring, happily mentored on the journey she has shared with her daughter all along The Way.