Sarah Farnsworth's free time is spent working to make the world a better place. Rather than lounging at the pool in the summer, the Alta High junior rolls up her sleeves to help those in need, most recently by building bathrooms with septic tanks in the villages of Fiji. Her humanitarian work has led to a business idea designed to provide education to girls halfway across the globe – and landed her one of 15 U.S. scholarships to attend a the 2014 EF Global Student Leaders Summit in China. There, she will share the stage with former Utah governor and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr.
The daughter of Kristen and Wayne Farnsworth is a high-achieving student at Alta, who earned a perfect score on the ACT and maintains a 4.0 GPA. She enjoys art classes, Advanced Placement Art History, and plays Lady Hawks Volleyball. Her passion, however, is service.
"I just love the feeling I get. I honestly feel like service helps me as much as it helps the people I'm trying to serve," she said. "It's a feeling you can't get from anything else. I love to play sport and do other things, but I don't feel as happy or as fulfilled as I do when I'm serving another person. I really want to continue that."
EF's international summits are designed to promote innovative thinking and give students and teachers an opportunity to hear from speakers, collaborate to solve international challenges, and build global citizenship, skills, and competencies. The March 13-22 event will take Sarah and other student participants worldwide to Shanghai for a two-day summit regarding socially responsible businesses. Sarah will be a presenter at the conference, showcase her business concept to her worldwide peers, and introduce Huntsman as a keynote speaker. Afterward, she and other conference-goers will tour cities in China, including Beijing.
Sarah applied for the EF Global Citizen Scholarship following her humanitarian work in Fiji last summer with the group Humanitarian Experience For Youth. There, she met a past scholarship winner, who encouraged her to apply for a scholarship – and the chance to be a presenter. Sarah earned both.
The scholarship is based on Sarah's submission of a socially responsible business plan, a watch business called "Time for Change." Under the plan, for every watch sold, a school uniform will be given to a girl in need in Kenya, India, Nigeria, Cambodia, or Fiji – nations selected due to high levels of poverty and gender inequality, she says. Sarah notes in her business plan video that girls in many underdeveloped countries drop out of school after sixth grade, affecting their economic stability, and the economic stability and health of their children. Students in many such countries require students to wear uniforms. But when an impoverished family is choosing whether to purchase food or a school uniform, the uniform winds up last on the priority list, and the opportunity for education is lost.
"I'm passionate about this idea because it isn't about short-term aid," Sarah says. "Education opens doors to girls' futures and benefits generations to come."
Sarah won't wait long after her return from the global summit to get started on the next project. Already, she's planning to travel to Ecuador, where she and other youth plan to build an addition to an orphanage.