Hillcrest Teacher, Students on ‘Mission of Philanthropy’ for Moroccan School

TOP: Anna Sifford
BOTTOM: Allie Schnitzer

A Dallas teacher and her students are on a mission to support a girls school in Morocco, where an earthquake destroyed the dormitories last fall.

Hillcrest High School history teacher Anna Sifford began a nonprofit, Action Allies United (AAU), to develop future international leaders, and The Lunar Accords, a junior diplomacy model and peace simulation organization.

“We are trying to innovate the way peace and conflict negotiation is done,” she said, by using “a structured academic environment.”

AAU students want to raise $40,000 for rebuilding the dormitories and present the money in person over spring break in Marrakech.

Fundraising efforts include the inaugural Lunar Accords Gala, chaired by International Baccalaureate student Allie Schnitzer, a junior.

“I happen to be Jewish, and it was a great opportunity for me to help in the near East to bring awareness to these situations and how Jewish people can be part of the solution,” Schnitzer said.

Sifford and her students, including Sepeid Goudarzi and Caden Roseman, learned about the dormitory situation at a fundraising dinner at Darna Mediterranean Eatery in Plano. They were raising money for Education for All, the same nongovernmental organization supported by the gala.

At the dinner, they learned about the damaged dormitories and wanted to help through their nonprofit.

The Moroccan girls live in rural areas in the High Atlas Mountains, so the dorms let them attend secondary school and go home on weekends.

Sifford said the short-term goal of providing earthquake relief “is reflective and indicative of the importance we place on ‘Education for All,’ and we’ve linked that to our public diplomacy which is an effort to show how education is linked to peace reconciliation if there was conflict, and establishing a more academic and objective way to solve crises.”

Sifford “handpicked” students she thought were “consistent and authentic,” and would “understand what their own altruism might actually look like in action.”

In the case of the Lunar Accords name, an accord is “a written promise” to pursue this mission of peace until there’s “a sustainable solution.”

Sifford and her students also have used the peace simulation organization to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by making their own model.

“Even though it’s a simulation, the peace and conflict negotiating skills that these students will learn in the process of these accords is what’s so invaluable,” Sifford said.

Other plans include partnering with an IB school in Casablanca and expanding their “mission of philanthropy” to other countries.

Schnitzer described what it means to the students. “We are the next generation who are going to solve world affairs and world issues – to imitate what future scholars will do when a call to action is needed.”

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