We are proud to present the 2015 ISTP “Rising Star Award” to Charlotte Emilie Steppling. Charlotte exemplifies the qualities of an ISTP “Rising Star” alumna, showing incredible generosity of spirit and strength of character in her service to the Peace Corps in Madagascar. Watch the video about Charlotte.
Charlotte can trace her decision to join the Peace Corps back to the lessons of empathy and generosity that she learned from her mother and her education at ISTP. Charlotte’s French language skills were immensely helpful as she received what she felt was her dream assignment – three years as an educational development volunteer in Madagascar, a former French colony.
Living with local families who mostly spoke the Malagasy language, Charlotte once again found herself receiving an immersion education. As she learned Malagasy, her language skills became a bridge to forming strong connections with her neighbors, allowing her to be more effective in her endeavors to teach English and build a Community Cultural Center in her village.
Charlotte adds, “I am so thankful for the relationships and friendships I have formed in my village. From my village mother, who ensures I get my daily serving of rice, to my next door neighbor who gifts me a basket of mangoes every morning, I feel loved and part of a community.”
Charlotte has poured her heart into her work, and has shown great leadership in spearheading the creation of a Cultural Center of Hope in her village. “There was a huge lack of youth development… I decided that a cultural center would be a great solution to this problem. Here at the center, we have a family – a family of 800 members… I have a team of 16 teachers that all volunteer their time… We are open 7 days a week, providing a safe space for learning and development.” The center offers English and French courses, and recreational activities.
In addition to her work in education, Charlotte has directly impacted young lives through her work with Operation Smile, an NGO dedicated to providing lifesaving operations to children born with cleft lip and cleft palate.
Through her work with Operation Smile, Charlotte has “become extremely passionate about global health care… and improving basic health care in third world countries.”
Reflecting on her time at ISTP, Charlotte says, “I feel that ISTP prepared me for the Peace Corps by giving me a broader view of the world. Being exposed to different cultures allowed me to learn, gain knowledge, and become much more open-minded. All these qualities have definitely helped me throughout my Peace Corps service.” Charlotte’s leadership, creativity, empathy, and determination have helped to change lives and create new possibilities in her village. Her open mind, hard work, and bravery will serve as examples of ISTP’s values that our students can look to for generations to come.