Foster and William Harris '20 are interested in government and demonstrate a genuine desire to help in areas where they see deficits.
As sophomores, Foster and William realized how complicated the naturalization process in Charlotte can be. The boys’ Spanish teacher, Paty Prieto, was going through the naturalization process and shared the intricacies of becoming a U.S. citizen with them. In addition, Foster’s soccer club, Scoring For Students, gave him and other Country Day students the opportunity to engage with new residents through street soccer.
Wanting to learn more, Foster visited Charlotte government offices, where he was introduced to Naturalize Charlotte. The organization collaborates with nine different groups to increase naturalizations among eligible residents through dissemination of information, classes, community support, and volunteerism. Foster, a self-taught Web developer, thought that he and William could work together to build a Web site for Naturalize Charlotte that would serve as a central hub of information and resources to aid eligible residents seeking to be naturalized.
“In Model United Nations, we look to address complex challenges with unifying solutions, and that is what is at the core of this project’s goal as well,” remarks William.
To accomplish their goal, they not only needed to build a Web site but also translate their site’s information into several languages. Foster focused on building most of the site while William helped with the design, coordinated volunteer language translation, and oversaw their beta-testing program. After a year of hard work, the brothers published naturalizecharlotte.org and, in January, presented their work to the City International Cabinet. As they continue to finalize their Web site, the beta-testing of naturalizecharlotte.org will continue though the spring, allowing the Harris brothers to receive feedback from student groups as well as their partners at the nonprofits. Once the beta-testing is complete, a formal web site launch will take place in front of an array of guests from Charlotte’s international community.
The teens’ volunteer base, made up of Country Day parents, students, and several members of the broader Charlotte community, has helped them translate their Web site’s information into a plethora of languages including Chinese, French, German, Hindi, and Spanish.
I admire the fact that Foster and William are addressing a true need in our community and using their interest in global issues and skills with technology to fuel their project. Having started this project as sophomores, this is allowing them several years to bring their vision to fruition. We consistently stress
that global is not just what takes place overseas, but is also linked to dynamics within our local community. Foster and William’s project embodies this.
David Lynn, Director of International Studies
Foster and William credit Mr. Lynn with being an excellent mentor through every step of the process. He helped the boys make new contacts within Charlotte’s government offices, allowing them to learn more about how to best streamline the information related to the naturalization process.