Want to know what girls think of our work?
Check out their testimonials below to see what
they have to say, in their own words!
To see feedback from adolescent boys,
please visit our Engaging Men and Boys page.
Project Participant Testimonials
In addition to individual workshops, Paper Crown Institute offers secondary school girls the opportunity to participate in unique capacity building projects that are designed to address key issues they face as adolescent girls, as well as key areas of interest girls have told us they're keen to learn about. These projects run for 3 months and engage girls in critical discussion around a variety of topics, including leadership, gender, violence, career building, community development, and mentoring. Girls emerge more confident and courageous than ever before, with new life skills and practical abilities that will support them on their journey towards becoming successful young women leaders.
Below, we share some of the personal testimonials from our girl participants, describing their experiences as they passed through these in-depth, thought-provoking and inspiring 12-week projects.
The Queen's Gambit Project, 2017 (3 cycles)
"The most interesting thing was the way we were taught to think outside of the limits put up by our society in order to be better and more successful. And also the fact that women or girls are not the only ones concerned when it comes to gender and that both sexes need to be educated for change."
"The workshop gives us real challenges that we will face, but also gives us the solution. It does not blind us from the truth. It also encourages me to be satisfied with what I've accomplished and work on being better."
"I learned that trusting and loving yourself are the first steps to building self-confidence in becoming a great leader."
"The most interesting thing I learned is that there's nothing more empowering than just being yourself and not being submissive to what people tell us to be or do."
"The most interesting thing about today's workshop was the fact that we learned about what to do in case you go through gender-based violence and the laws of the government that are there to protect us."
“What was most inspiring to me about this workshop is that I learned that as a regular teenage girl, I can do something better for people who have problems, and improve their quality of life with just the help of my skills.”
“On my side, I got inspired because I could never speak up for myself but now I can, and it helped me to be responsible for my life.”
“I never knew that our personal voice* is within us every time, but sometimes we are scared to use it, so I learned that no matter what, I’ll try my best to trust, love and value myself.”
“Wow! I learned so much today. I learned to listen to the voice inside of me, to be true to myself, to be an influential person by being a good listener, respecting others and caring about others.”
“I love how the instructor includes us and encourages us to speak our minds about what we think or experience. She gives us various examples that help us understand the topic clearly, and it is really fun.”
“My favourite part of the workshop is the part where you talked about going ahead and being comfortable with trying new things and sometimes failing, because that is when you really succeed.”
“I don’t really know how to express it but what I found most interesting was the transformation that was taking place within me that totally has changed the sight in which I see gender-based violence.”
“I learned that to be a good leader, even if it’s being a class monitor, I have first of all to love and trust in myself, even if others think that I am weak or afraid, I also learned that I have to try even if I fail, I have to do it even if I am afraid, because when I fail this is also where I recognize my success.”
“I am here on the earth for a reason, my life is a gift and I have to use it to be a gift for others.”
“I thought differently about the opinions of other people on my life, many times I cared about them, but this workshop encouraged me to live my life and not care about their opinions, because I am me.”
“The most interesting thing I found in this workshop was the part about personal voice, because I realized that most of the time I don’t really listen to my personal voice, which made me think that I should change that and get over my fear and make my confidence stronger.”
The Uwicyeza Project, 2015
"I was invited by Pauline into this project but I didn’t know exactly what the project was all about. I said “yes” spontaneously but today I imagine the regret I could be having if I wasn’t a member in The Uwicyeza Project.
I used to be a shy girl with low self-esteem and I always had to hide this character because I was afraid I could be used if someone knew this weakness. The Uwicyeza Project awakened my mind to realize how great I am and the only challenge I’ve got is myself. I gained new skills around communication and networking, and this helped me to advance the skills I needed for making a project in my community. I know today that joining The Uwicyeza Project is one of the best decisions I have made in my life so far. So thank you, and thank you Katie, for being such a blessing to my life, you have inspired me so much to stimulate the growth of my self-esteem.
This goes to all girls around the world – you are great and right now just think about what all you could have done if you had just stopped listening to the world."
- Hope, age 17
"This project is the first I have participated in, and it is the best. I learned many things, including skills like how to make jewelry, like bracelets with beads. I learned about how to build a project and implement it. I also learned about gender, what gender is, and the problems we face as girls. Now I also have communication skills. What I liked most about this project is that I now know how to work in a team, and I can express myself anywhere.
Before joining this project, I was so scared to talk to people and to express myself and share my ideas, but now I can share my ideas and convince people. This is a very great thing, and I will always remember this project because it changed my life and also my way of understanding. Our mentors also helped us learn life skills, like making earrings with “ibitenge”, now I can make them myself and sell them and have money. This project is a great project and I would like it to happen every year so that other girls can have the skills and knowledge that I have acquired from the project!"
- Divine, age 16
"Since the project started, I have come to learn so much about my community and was so impressed by my project team. In the beginning I wasn’t aware of what’s happening outside in the community around me, their problems and their weaknesses. Me being in the project made me feel so inspired to help others, not depending on having big or little capital (money) because that’s not what really matters most, what matters most is a willing heart for helping others. It was not only me who was inspired by our project but also the entire community. I am hoping that by the end of this project, many people will get inspired by our thoughts and ideas and actions, and that will help the community at large."
- Cynthia, age 18
"Since the project started, I learned a lot of things. The first is gender, I got the real view of gender and gender-based violence. I learned how no one can handle me the way he or she wants just because I am a girl. I also learned about leadership, how I can be an effective leader and also what makes a good leader. I realized that anyone can do something to develop his or her community, and that I have skills to share with others. I thank Paper Crown for all they have done for me!"
- Joyce, age 17
"From the time the project started, I learned different skills on my rights as a girl and I also the role I can play to help my fellow girls and share my experience. When we started working on the project, I was really impressed by the networking we did and working hand in hand with my friends and colleagues in the field. This taught me that in the future I can invent and bring something new into existence. I developed entrepreneurship skills that I had always looked for, because in school I would often hear about the theory of entrepreneurship.
These sessions for me opened my eyes to see that I can do something, it might be small but I can make an impact on my community. My mentor once said to us, “Baby, be big, the world is small”, and thanks to the Uwicyeza Project, I know I have potential and I won’t grow old without making the most of it."
- Solange, age 16
"I have learned so many things in the Uwicyeza Project, like overcoming shyness. I have learned also how I can solve my community’s problems by starting with a small amount of capital. I have also learned new skills that can help me to make money for myself, like making necklaces and many other things.
Above all, what I really gained or experienced from the project is the ability to network with different people, and this shows me that there is a future, there is hope when I use well the skills I have gained from The Uwicyeza Project. Thank you for building a better future and expanding our thoughts through this project, we shall use them to build our country and our world in general, because now I know that everything is possible."
- Emerance, age 17
Individual Workshop Participant Testimonials
To see testimonials from our workshops that engage men and boys, please refer to the Engaging Men and Boys section of the website.
100 Women Who Will Impact Rwanda Mentoring Camp 2015
(Gender & Leadership + Career Building & Networking workshops)
Aged 13-18 years old
Developed and Facilitated by Katie Carlson, Founder & CEO
"I learned how as a young woman I can overcome challenges that I meet and I learned how I can be a great leader."
"An interesting thing we learned from this workshop is about gender balance, because it hurts me when I see girls doing housework alone without the help of their brothers."
"I learned how to have new ideas in my mind, and I learned to be persistent, because before I didn't used to try something many times. If I failed I would give up, but now I've changed."
"I learned the qualities of a good leader, and more importantly, I learned the tools to use to overcome the challenges faced by women because of gender inequality."
"Really it was amazing, you gave me power inside me that I feel I can use to change others, and I can play an important role to bring justice and human rights in society and in my country."
"Today I learned so much. I didn't know that I have many rights, and that made me feel valuable. Secondly, I had a great thought cross my mind about being the future president, since what a man can do I can do too, no matter what."
"What I found most interesting is how women's leadership is still low in the world and how we can change this situation, which is a result of our history, including culture and gender inequality."
"I learned that we are all equal and that all humans have rights which have to be respected."
"This workshop was so interesting because this is what we face in our daily lives so it's crucial to talk about it."
Gender & Leadership workshop participants (2013-2014)
Aged 14 - 18 years old
Developed and Facilitated by Katie Carlson, Founder
"The content of the workshop was amazing and interesting in a way I didn't expect it to be, because it was all about sharing our experiences in our daily life and thoughts, and to look at what we can do to change the world as girls."
"It's obvious that Katie teaches what she lives, not just what she's heard; she practices what she preaches. For sure she can be a change maker, for she has already changed me in less than four hours."
"I really enjoyed how we were invited to speak up our minds and no one's idea was underestimated. I also enjoyed that we were able to talk about real life since this is our everyday life."
"Katie is committed and self-confident. She makes people believe in themselves."
"My first suggestion is to introduce these kinds of workshops into each and every school in Rwanda!"
"Katie's teaching style and knowledge were great. She knows how to deal with teenage girls and she's open and free. In short, she's great!"
"What I learned is how to build self-confidence in me. For me, it's the first time that I've really learned how to have confidence in myself, and it was really cool!"
"From this workshop, I learned that a person is the one to create their inner voice. I learned that through your actions, thoughts and accomplishments, your voice grows. Before coming to this workshop, I thought that confidence is gained from how other people see you or how they consider you in society, which is not true, because you yourself can grow your voice and your confidence."
"I learned the actual difference between sex (biological) and gender (social). I understood that inequality starts from birth and this therefore helped me notice for myself all those other small identifiers of inequality."
"Katie taught us things that we can really use in our daily lives which can help us and that was really cool."
"The content of the workshop was very interesting and valuable since we learned about leadership and gender equality which are the backbone of developing countries and communities all over the world."
"This workshop showed me the way we can't limit ourselves as girls from doing things that boys can do. We can be equal to boys even though from history they have been valued more than us. Through being responsible and focused we can be able to work hard so that we become equal to boys, not better than them."
"The content was interesting because it has shown us that we have the full potential to change the world."
"Katie is confident and knows how to relate to those she's talking to - it's inspiring."
"I learned that beliefs make up your mind set, and your mind set results in your behaviour. I also learned the values of a leader and how I can be a good leader myself."
"This workshop wasn't boring like so many other workshops I've been to, it was fun and educational. Katie gives you knowledge in a good and fun way!"
"I learned that self-confidence is something you can work on and develop. I also learned that to be a leader is not about leading a huge group of people, but leading is being influential, not just occupying a huge space, but being part of people's lives and doing what is necessary to help them."
"I think Katie's lessons are inspiring and I liked the way she listened to our points of view."
"The instructor's teaching style was pretty cool, and I think she has many things to give to girls like us."
"I think she's got a great style of instructing, and it was awesome how she cooperated with us. Katie knows a lot about what she was teaching us, and that's what I call knowledge."
"I learned that gender is a social thing (not the same as sex, like I thought) so we can change it for the better."
"Generally I loved the instructor's teaching style, she is far from boring (thank God) and she connects a lot to us girls, and I think that is important. She really knows her work."