I am thankful for: Emily and Tieneke

As the holiday season approaches, all of us here at Girl Up are realizing how many great things we have in our lives. So in celebration of the American holiday Thanksgiving, we’ve all come up with five things that we’re thankful for. This is the second blog in our “I am thankful for…” series. To read the first blog and find out what Annie and Dory are thankful for click here. Keep checking in throughout the week to find out what everyone else here at Girl Up is thankful for.

Five Things Emily is Thankful For…

  1. Clean and Available Water. For cooking, for drinking, for brushing my teeth, I have access to clean water. And when I see what some families in developing countries have to go through to have water — I'm reminded of how lucky I am. A few Christmases ago, my husband, his two brothers, and I were on a road trip to his grandparents' house in Tennessee. We started asking random questions to pass the time. One of them was, "If you could have any superpower, what would it be?" Mine was the power to create clean water, anywhere in the world. Access to clean water has a direct impact on health and opportunity — think about all the girls who have to walk hours to collect water every day! After being teased for by "dorky" answer (I think they were joking, though hard to tell with three boys), everyone agreed: Water Creation is greater than Flying.
  2. Choosing Marriage. I got to choose the person I married, and at what age I married. And that's an incredible gift.
  3. Going to school. There was never any question that school was my "job" as a child. My family didn't have to choose whether it would be me or my brother who received an education.
  4. Inspiring Women and Girls. I meet wonderful people in my role: the Girl Up Teen Advisors; Tieneke, my work buddy and traveling partner; girls like Hajira in Malawi; and women like Rosie, who runs a safe house for girls in Liberia. They make me want to work hard every day.
  5. Funny People. In this line of work, although I try to stay focused on solutions, I see difficult things that just make me sad. So my special thanks to the funny people, (especially you, Tina Fey!) for making me laugh, helping me see the good and the ridiculous, and keeping me on track. 

Five Things Tieneke is Thankful For… 

  1. Morning runs. When I was in 7th grade I joined a cross country team. Back then, one of the most exciting things was to run to Frosty Dan’s, the local ice cream shop. It may sound crazy, but I look forward to waking up every morning and going for a run in the park. And I’ve realized that not only do I love running but I’m lucky to be able to do it. Around the world, there are girls who want to play but can’t just because they’re girls. I’m so thankful to have grown up in an environment where I was encouraged to dance, swim, and run.
  2. The amazing people I work with. I am surrounded by incredibly smart and passionate people working to make a difference in the world, and I work for an organization that respects and supports me as a young, female professional. I know that my voice is heard and can make a difference.
  3. Traveling. Over the past few months, Emily Courey Pryor (one of the amazing people I work with!) and I traveled to Guatemala, Liberia, and Malawi to meet our UN partners and to learn what girls themselves had to say about their goals and dreams, the challenges they face, and how Girl Up can work with the UN to make a difference in their lives. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to travel around the world and to be able to share the incredible stories we heard with all of you!
  4. Inspiring Women (and Girls). This year marked the 20th anniversary of Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year awards, and I could not be more thankful to have such powerful and inspiring women to look up to. One of my favorite honorees this year was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was elected as the first female president of Liberia two years after the end of a 14-year civil war. Every time I met a group of girls in Liberia and asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up, at least one girl stood up and said, “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf!” And I know that girls and young women can make a difference too.  I think that Katie Spotz, who became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean when she went from West Africa to South America earlier this year to raise awareness for clean drinking water, said it best: “It’s easy to think, I’m only one person. What can I do? But the answer is simple. Something. Anything.”
  5. The little things. I studied abroad in Senegal, West Africa for a year and while I was there I realized that sometimes it’s just the little things. While I was in Senegal I learned that I was thankful for a slice of pizza when I was homesick, pictures of the fall leaves back home when it was still 90 degrees in September, and care packages that had chocolate, magazines, and photos of my family and friends. I still try to remember to be thankful for all of the little things that make a difference in my life.


To read the first blog and find out what Annie and Dory are thankful for, click here. Keep visiting GirlUp.org throughout the week to hear what other people at Girl Up are thankful for and share in the comments what you are thankful for this year! 


Submitted by Sam on November 23, 2010

I am thankful to be able to be thankful for things. I am lucky to have all that I have in my life, because I know how hard it is for others. That's why I joined this site. GirlUp actually came to my school, and I realized how important it is to give other people a chance to be thankful for something.

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