On a crisp Thursday evening in February, I had the pleasure of seeing an event I spent weeks working on come together. Winter “Wine”derland was a night filled with food, wine, intimate conversations, and a violin performance by our newest board member Board member Garam Kim. Together with Emily Oing, Garam Kim played and Paganini’s Cantabile, selected movements from Bach’s unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, and two duets for violin by Henryk Wieniawski. The event was hosted by Board member Pragya Mishra at her beautiful condo overlooking a picturesque view of the Chicago skyline.

One highlight of the night was a heartfelt speech by board member Pragya Mishra about how Project Exploration has changed the way she advocates for and builds confidence in young girls. After listening to Pragya’s inspiring dialogue, I had the opportunity to speak with Pragya and several other guests about the way in which girls have been traditionally socialized to view career options, the importance of building up girls’ confidence outside of academics, and the political climate of our education system. By the end of our conversation, every guest took the initiative to donate to Project Exploration, and some even signed up for our mailing list to receive additional information.

Board members, Project Exploration staff members, and guests enjoyed fine wine paired with stimulating conversations with our guests throughout the night. I had the opportunity to meet several of Project Exploration’s board members and learn about their experience working with the organization. I enjoyed how each board member I talked with added a different perspective and skillset to the organization. In the midst of all the networking, I took the opportunity to work on increasing our donor base by sharing flyers and handouts for guest to take with them.

This event brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds to highlight the significant impact Project Exploration has on underrepresented communities. Guests in attendance came from various vocational, cultural, and educational backgrounds. It was exciting to see guests who were unfamiliar with Project Exploration become interested in learning how they can help our cause and get more involved with working with our organization. We even had a guest who expressed interest in assisting with the Sisters4Science annual outdoor camping trip next year. I walked away from this event feeling many emotions: relief, joy, empowerment, and hope for the future of Project Exploration.

In closing, if I may perform a toast: we couldn’t continue to serve the minority youth of Chicago without you. Through you, we are making a difference in the lives of so many children and showing them a better future than they ever thought possible. To our staff, Board, and all our esteemed guests, cheers to a job well done and thank you for making Project Exploration what it is. Here’s to success in the future for both Project Exploration and the next generation of STEM.

Written By: Janese Evans


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