WISER has a global mentoring program that includes international visits by high school and university students from around the world. WISER has been hosting students from Duke University since it opened and several WISER girls have also traveled to Duke in the US to work on joint projects with their new friends. The current Duke group will be spending 7 weeks with the WISER girls.
When girls join WISER they are assigned to peer counseling groups called Houses of Wisdom. The Houses meet every Monday for a student led conversation about personal challenges and strategies for success and are part of WISER’s empowerment programs. Girls in a House live together, eat together, and and support each other. When we have long-term international visitors we have each guest join a House to build meaningful friendships that last beyond the visit.
Below is a story by Indy Rajan, a Duke student who joined Mirror House.
On the left is Ida. The third from the right is Vivian. Next to Vivian is Bonita, and Movine is on the far right. These are some of the girls that I’ve met here at the WISER school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya.
At the beginning of their first year at WISER, each of the girls are sorted into a House of Wisdom. If you’ve seen or read the Harry Potter series, it’s a similar process to sorting at Hogwarts, other than that 1) there’s no magical hat, and 2) instead of being named after the founders, the Houses of Wisdom are named after traits that the WISER girls hope to exude.
I understood the first seven: Noble, Vivacious, Gorgeous, Integrity, Precious, Savvy, and Magnificent. All of these are respectable attributes that the WISER girls aspire to embody. But the eighth house was named “Mirror”. Although it seemed to be an exception, I knew that there must have been a meaning behind the name. My initial thought was that it was a metaphor for empathy—being able to reflect and more deeply understand the feelings and emotions of others. However, caught up in the excitement of finally arriving at WISER and meeting the girls for the first time, the question of Mirror’s meaning quickly escaped my mind.
A few days after the rest of the Duke students and I arrived, we were each sorted into houses as well, and I was to join Mirror. With a knowing smile, my site coordinator said to me, “Mirror has a special meaning. You’ll have to ask a WISER girl to find out what it is.”
So during dinner with the Mirror girls, I asked them to explain the significance of the house’s name. Ida replied, “A mirror shines light. And even if it has been broken, it will always shine light to you.”
Since then, there hasn’t been a single day on which a WISER girl hasn’t shown me her light. Each girl has a different story; some have broken mirrors. But regardless, each girl has a light that is bright and brilliant and ceaselessly inspiring.