by Elise Witt
Kimberli Render, Arts Coordinator
Kimberli Nicole Render was practically born singing–her first solo act was in pre-school where she sang Billy Ray Cyrus’ song “Achy Breaky Heart.” She grew up in a happy home in Columbus, GA with her mother, father, and two older brothers. The Render children were all encouraged to play instruments and sports, so Kim played softball for 6 years and tried the clarinet for a year. Since she never practiced, her mom decided to stop her lessons and signed her up for chorus, instead. In the 7th grade, her teacher Ms. Mowen set her on her path to study music. She told Kim, “ You can major in music in college. You can be a music therapist or teacher or performer.”
Kim went to college at Columbus State as a pre-med major. During that first semester she missed music so much that she decided to become a double major, adding Music Education. By the next year, she was a full time Music Ed major, and soon added Vocal Performance to her degree. Student teaching gave her experience with both elementary and high school music teaching. She also fell in love–with opera, by way of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote.” She declared that the opportunity to sing an opera solo with full orchestra was “the best day of my life,” and knew then that music and music performance was where she wanted to be.
Colorado State College, where Kim went after completing her undergraduate degree, was a long way from home and everything she had known, but it was a move that influenced her to grow as a musician and a person. Her teaching assistantship was a tribute to her skill and helped her pay for her studies. She later became an Adjunct Professor at CSU and at Front Range University College where she sometimes lectured to 250 students at a time! Over the course of 2 years, she taught 2000 students in Music Appreciation classes.
Continuing her courageous ability to be far from home, Kimberli studied opera in Italy In 2008 and again in 2012 where “music is part of everyday life.” She sang with an Italian orchestra and her first international role was in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”
In 2015, Kim moved back to Georgia to take a job with the Atlanta Music Project. This gave her an introduction to the world of non-profit organizations and exposure to teaching music and performance to inner city kids. She began to understand how she could use her gifts to support and help her community.
In 2017, quite by chance, she saw a posting for the job of Arts Coordinator at GVP. Kim says, “My job at GVP combines my love of working with young women, my administrative expertise, and my talents in the arts. It is the perfect place for me!” Longtime GVP music teacher Elise Witt agrees. “Kim is truly the perfect person to coordinate all the arts at GVP. We are so very lucky to have her here with us!”
The Adventures of GVP Girls at Peacebuilders Camp
by Cindy Stark Reid
Peacebuilders Camp, a nonprofit organization located in Americus, Georgia is a week long residential camp for 11-14 year olds. The mission of Peacebuilders Camp at Koinonia Farm is to provide a transformative summer camp experience that empowers a diverse community of youth to work toward peace, justice and human rights.
The camp introduces middle-school-aged youth (ages 11-14) to a wide variety of peacebuilding, social justice, and civil rights activities and inspires them to consider how they can make a positive difference in their world.
Several of our GVP girls have attended and have had great experiences. Here are a few comments from current and former GVP students about their experience at the camp:
Form 3 Student: “We talked about how we can make our community a good place one day. We went to a man’s house and helped him build it. On my first day I was shy because I didn’t know anyone. But they welcomed me with big smiles and that made me happy that I felt like I wasn’t shy anymore. Every night we gathered and said what good thing someone did to make your day. I had so much fun that I didn’t want to go back home. That most important things i learned was I could take care of myself and make things that will make my community a better place. I also learned it was ok to be with different people and the best thing to see someone smile at you.”
GVP Alumna, Farzana: “I like Peacebuilding camp because they accept you for who you are in the inside and always respect you. They always try to being peace and love. And try to stop hate.”
GVP Alumna, Crespo: “I liked Peacebuilders camp because I got to meet up new people and sleep over with my best friend (Farzana). The best thing about the camp was when we went to the lake riding the canoe. I will love to to do it again this coming summer.”
When I arrived for pick up with Steve Heckler after the girls had been there for a week their enthusiasm and excitement was palpable. They couldn’t stop talking about all they had done and the great counselors and outings they had been on. Then they fell into a deep sleep of exhaustion and began a well deserved rest.
by Spring 2018 Interns
GVP has 12 interns this semester! This is the largest intern class that GVP has had to date, and we certainly appreciate all the hard work and dedication that our Spring 2018 interns put into their positions. Learn more about our interns and their service in the highlights below:
Development and Marketing Intern
Agnes Scott College; Studio Art Major, French Minor
What is your favorite thing about your service here at GVP?
My favorite thing about my service here is getting to see the students flood into the office during lunch or at the end of a day. They have such an incredible enthusiasm and zeal for life! I feel like being on the office side of things, you don’t really get to see that as often as maybe you would like. So at times, it can feel like you are missing out on interacting with some really bright, unique personalities. It can also be really easy to get lost in all of the paperwork and technicalities of office work which sometimes makes me wonder if we are making any difference. But seeing the students every day, jumping around, singing, laughing and living reminds me that the work we are doing truly is making a difference in that it is directly impacting these people —the students on the other side of the hallway. So I would say, their vibrant personalities and constant exuberance make all of the work we are doing infinitely worth it.
Emory University – Cultural Anthropology PhD Program
What the most valuable thing you’ve learned during your time here at GVP?
I’m glad to say that my time at GVP is far from over; this is still just the beginning! So far, the most valuable thing I’ve learned here is that “refugees” need to be released from the “refugee” category that our wider society assigns them to. We project certain expectation, stories, beliefs, and ways of being onto people when we think of them as defined by something singular, like their refugee status. The only brief times I have been reminded of that identity by the girls at GVP is when they sometimes share in morning meeting about problems that their families are having adjusting to Clarkston, or their relatives whom are being killed in Syria. Aside from those moments, the girls at GVP are not defined by their refugee-ness; they are girls and young women who care about how their outfit or hijab looks, who try to get away with whispering when they’re not supposed to talk in class, who get frustrated by their homework, and who (I’m sure!) talk about boys some of the time when they’re speaking in their mother tongue and the teachers can’t understand. I think it’s vital to not only respect the differences between us, but also be aware of how similar humans everywhere are. Seeing the full humanity and complexity of a single girl here at GVP helps break down the stereotypes we may not even know we hold about “refugees.” Instead, we have such a better opportunity: to see and know each girl as a human being doing her best, and letting her tell us how she chooses to define herself.
Agnes Scott College with a double major in Business Management and International Relations
How will your work at GVP help you in your future endeavors?
My work at GVP has allowed me to grow as an independent individual. Although I just started my internship last month, it has been a pleasure to work at this place. I have been able to closely work with my supervisor, which has allowed me to learn from her leadership skills and responsibilities. GVP has helped me map my future career goals by giving me a sense of how non-profit organizations operate.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far at GVP. Even though I have not spent much time here, I have created some great memories with the administrative staff and volunteers. GVP is a place where the community comes together for a great cause to empower young girls through education. I truly look forward to continue my work here.
The Cambridge School of Weston
Planning on studying architecture at Washington University in St. Louis
Describe Global Village Project in 3-6 words and explain your response.
I would describe GVP as engaging, stimulating, nurturing, and illuminating. Within the short period of time that I have served at GVP, I have felt as though the community is very nurturing; that learning is promoted in through a caring and perceptive atmosphere, making it somewhere that the girls become interested in education while also enjoying themselves. Not only does the atmosphere promote learning for the students, it has been an engaging experience for myself. Not having much experience with teaching I have found that working with the girls to be hard work but also an enjoyable learning experience for myself. I have also found that the community built by the teachers and faculty at GVP seems to stimulate the students and myself. The material is presented to the girls in encouraging and interactive ways so that they are able to obtain the material is ways they may understand better. Lastly, I used the word illuminating to describe GVP because as someone who has grown up in America and has a strong educational background, it has been an illuminating experience being exposed to these girls from different backgrounds who are very interesting and intelligent but who may not have had access to the same education as myself.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far at GVP. While it has been challenging for me to kind of jump into the work, I have found new motivation each day I return. Each day I return I find myself becoming more invested in what the girls are learning and want to encourage the learning within GVP because it is such a great atmosphere and community to be in and a part of. There is so much care given for the girls and their learning that I am continually encouraged to do my best and put effort into sharing my knowledge and experiences.
Currently on a gap year, interested in the Social Sciences
How would you describe the GVP culture that you’ve experienced during your service? How has the culture enhanced or challenged your service?
Global Village Project is not a misnomer; staff, students, and administration form a genuine bond here. The power of the GVP community is incredible. And the resulting spirit of shared learning is transcendent.
Having come here with service in mind, I’ve gained more than I could have ever given. GVP girls have faced tremendous hardship. Many have confronted violence or missed years of school. But when I see them laughing and learning, I realize that each of these girls is a testament to the indomitability of the human spirit. Moreover, I realize that they will make a positive impact on the world. Because of them, I go forward with the knowledge that I am capable of anything.
Georgia State University (Atlanta campus)
Applied Linguistics major with Arabic minor and TEFL certificate. I would like to work in interpretation and translation after graduation.
What does Global Village Project mean to you?
GVP is a safe haven where people of all different cultures, languages, backgrounds, religions, etc. can be fully accepted for all that they are and grow to love others for all that they are in return. Our community is made up of people who speak one language as well as three or more; those who have lived in several countries; and those who have never left the U.S.; those who have experienced significant obstacles; and those who have had a relatively smooth life. Though many more contrasts can be drawn, here our contrasts don’t separate us. Rather, they allow us to lean into an experience that is not our own and feel the joys and pains as if they were ours. There’s so much to learn at GVP that goes beyond the lessons we teach and the activities the girls partake in, but everyday we are truly cultivating the type of community that the rest of the world would do well to imitate… a community that is so safe in every meaning of the word that every kind of learning is possible… a community where difference are approached with wonder and excitement. I have no doubt that as we near the end of the semester that the girls of GVP will prove to have made remarkable academic progress and growth from when we first met them in the Fall, but what I hope and pray will stand out when they reflect on their time at GVP is that
they learned and got to witness what truly makes America so great.
Community Engagement Intern
Agnes Scott College, Business Management
What has been your favorite memory or experience during your time here at GVP?
My favorite memory was attending the Authors’ Tea for the very first time this past February. As one of the Community Engagement interns, I work with managing the volunteer program at GVP and have the opportunity to witness the volunteers level of engagement and commitment to the students success. So, to see the GVP community gather and know that my work has in some small way contributed to improving the volunteers ability to work in the classroom each day and give the girls the skills and confidence to perform the way they did, was magical.
As someone who has experienced the transformative effect that women’s education has had on the development of my full creative and intellectual potential, it is a pleasure and a joy to contribute to fostering such an environment for these young, brilliant students.
Playmaking for Girls Intern
Moody Bible Institute: Intercultural Studies
Describe an interaction that you feel best captures the essence of Global Village Project.
During my time interning at Global Village Project, it has been clear to see the safety and freedom the students encounter on a daily basis. I teach alongside Playmaking for Girls where expression through movement and drama incorporates the girls’ core curriculum subjects. A recent moment in class has served as a reminder of what GVP means to its students and what it has meant to me.
During a movement exercise, the girls danced around the classroom waving scarves in bird-like movements, the smiles on their faces and traces of the thoughts running through their minds only hinted at what they were feeling. We sat down afterwards to talk through what the exercise made them feel and I want to list a few things they said. “At first, I felt nervous, but then I forgot about everyone else and began to feel free,” “Dancing makes me feel powerful,” “My movements were showing the difference between war and peace”.
These statements among countless others during my time at GVP have made it clear that these girls feel a sense of safety and of freedom at this school. They feel that they have the liberty to talk about what has been traumatic in their lives and express the security they feel in moving forward. While Global Village Project serves as a launch pad for it’s students, preparing them to be kind, confident, and strong women, I feel that GVP has impacted my future steps as well and has equipped me with the kindness, confidence, and strength to impact and learn from these incredible young women.
Materials/Technology Support Intern
Kennesaw State University / Information Technology
What advice would you give to anyone that is interested in serving at GVP as an intern (in your role or in general)?
Interning with GVP has been a unique experience. Each day has always been different and interesting. We are all working as a team in preparing the girls for higher education once they graduate from GVP. The girls all have different background, but they are eager to learn and do well in school. Whatever our role is, we all are contributing to the success of the girls.
For anyone that is interested in serving at GVP as an intern, it would be best to have an idea as to what role you would like to serve in. GVP offers many intern roles such as Community Engagement, Development and Marketing, ESOL/Literacy, Materials/Technology Support, and S.T.E.A.M. As the Materials/Technology Support Intern, I am in charge of preparing class materials for teachers. This includes using various educational websites such as JupiterEd and Fountas & Pinnell to create quizzes and activities for students to complete. With my role, the first couple of weeks were overwhelming with learning all that the role encompasses, however it will be a breeze once you get the hang of things. If you happen to forget how to complete a task, the teachers and/or staff will help you in whatever way they can.
Georgia State University
English Major/ Applied Linguistics- TEFL Minor
What is the most challenging thing about your service here at GVP?
The most challenging aspect about my service at GVP would be practicing patience while waiting for the culmination of the girls’ education to come to fruition through their exam results. My hope is to help the girls’ education and to see them succeed, but I have only been in service for a short while and have not seen the test results, as of yet. I know that they will do as well as I think they can. My hope is to nurture their educations and to help them achieve their language goals. I realize that education is not something that can be quickly evaluated, especially as a part-time Intern, but hope that I am making a difference after all.
I am extremely pleased with the level of dedication and excitement the girls have as they continue to challenge themselves while enhancing their language skills. They have exhibited a dedication that many students their age lack. They are a smart, energetic and strong group of learners that I know will do well in their academic careers.
Community Engagement Associate
Georgia State University – Managerial Science major, Sociology and International Business, minors
What has been a defining moment in your experience at GVP?
When I began my position in September 2017, I was excited to serve Global Village Project as the first community engagement intern. As an office aid, I spend much of my time interacting with staff and under the supervision of our wonderful Community Engagement Associate, Teni-Ola. While I appreciate the administrative focus of my role at GVP, this leaves very little room for interaction with the girls and other volunteers. During the annual run I was able to see, for the first time, the dynamic impact GVP has had on the students, volunteers, and the community. I witnessed the girls encouraging each other, our many volunteers coming together for one cause, and our staff working diligently to make it all possible. This was the first time I really comprehended GVPs impact and saw how my service was a lot bigger than me. This event captured each of GVP’s 5 community values of respect, responsibility, appreciation, kindness, and lifelong learning and I knew that this was exactly where I needed to be.
In my short time here, I have witnessed so much growth in GVP. Later in the fall semester, I was introduced to two amazing additions to GVP staff, Martice and Kimberli, who in their short time have welcomed me, offered wisdom, as well as some great podcast recommendations. I noticed how warmly these women were embraced and welcomed into their new positions by other staff and I appreciate all of their hard work and contributions to pushing GVP forward.
Agnes Scott College, Neuroscience, Senior
What event has affected you the most here at GVP and why?
The walk last semester affected me the most here at GVP. I got to interact with other interns and see the girls outside of the school setting. It made me realize that GVP is not only a school but a community.