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Natalie Gale, of Cape Elizabeth, earns 2017 Gold Award


Every year, the global refugee crisis forces countless families and individuals to abandon their homes and flee to America. The city of Portland and surrounding towns have seen an influx of refugees over the years from countries such as Rwanda, the Congo and Somalia.

There are many challenges that refugees face coming to America. Among them is their lack of fluency in English, fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the Americans, and the intolerance that goes with that misunderstanding.

Natalie worked to overcome these challenges by creating a language learning program in the Cape Elizabeth and Portland schools. Student volunteers from Cape Elizabeth High School work with refugee students, as well as other English Language Learning (ELL) students, helping them with their academic work and tutoring them in English. High school students are encouraged to participate starting their freshman year, creating a sustainable volunteer base to keep the program going.

The impact of her project is two-fold; her fellow students, who have never experienced true diversity, gain firsthand understanding by working with individuals from entirely different backgrounds, thus establishing a more accepting community; and those refugees gain a better understanding of the English language.

Natalie has presented her project at 2016 Senior Leadership Conference at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, where she was the keynote speaker, inspiring other students to start programs like hers in their own communities.

Natalie says that success of Cultural Communication can be measured by the incredible exchange of culture and knowledge that has occurred between the student volunteers and the refugee students, and the wonderful impact it has had on all their lives.

Natalie, you are a true ambassador for Girl Scouts, and you are a leader who makes us proud.

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls in grades nine through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable take-action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities and beyond.  It requires a minimum of 80 hours of work in planning and implementing the project. Only five percent of eligible girls take the path toward earning the Gold Award, but those who complete the journey change their lives and the lives of others in amazing ways. Learn more about all the highest awards in Girl Scouting.