GIVING girls the green light to explore, discover, enjoy and master science is Melissa Rancourt’s biggest goal, and she herself has been surprised to discover how much help has come along the way in developing her project, and how very enthusiastic girls have been to take part in it throughout the world. The international organisation is volunteer-run, and has gathered a significant number of interns, “ambassadors”, teachers and other helpful individuals who support its projects, messages and initiatives in various ways.
With the affirmative mantra of “anything is possible!”, girls of a school age are encouraged to pursue STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – while having a really great time, and realising that the sciences are just as much about reasoning and logic as they are about creativity and resourcefulness.
Girls are encouraged from young ages to see that despite the field of science today being mainly male-dominated, (regardless that there have been a good amount of awesome female scientist predecessors rocking the science world in history), they too can play a significant role and turn things around in the world, by becoming science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals. The organisation runs workshops, talks, seminars, events, and has organised libraries for girls who don’t have access to books, as well as a global scholarship project.
Chairman and Founder Rancourt, who is half Greek, half French and raised in Italy, is an engineer and university professor as well as an entrepreneur (and one of her three businesses is a successful health spa in Brussels).
Through her energetic and appealing initiatives, she reaches out to girls of all ages coming from different countries, cultures and economic backgrounds from as far and wide as the Congo and Cameroon in Africa to various parts of India, the Middle East, the US as well as numerous European countries.
On May 8th, 2015, Greenlight for Girls held an event for girls from three schools at the Herakleidon Museum of Visual Arts in Thisseio in central Athens, chiefly organised by a professional in the communications field and mother of two, Milena Amvrazi Diamantopoulou who has passionately taken on the green light torch in Greece on a volunteer basis.
The museum, which last year opened an annexe in the same neighbourhood, has always been a great supporter of educational initiatives, welcoming groups of boisterously curious school kids to experience the various exhibitions, as well as organising thought-provoking and fun interactive workshops related to art, and more. Its exhibitions of “genius master” visual artists such as M.C Escher, Victor Vasserely have drawn visitors old and young by the hundreds, and have offered fantastic tools for educational purposes.
At the kick-off event on May 8th, the museum’s Executive Director Nicholas Kontoprias told the participants that Herakleidon will be welcoming them and other girls for the next year, to visit and participate in an ongoing series of exciting STEM-related workshops. At the opening of the workshops, which included teaching the girls how to make a necklace out of their DNA, Rancourt spoke about the importance of looking to the future, and recognising that by believing in oneself, but also by realising dreams based on studying STEM subjects, they can build bright and meaningful futures for themselves.
My Greek Review caught up with Rancourt for a chat at the Herakleidon Museum (video interview below).