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June 1, 2018

GVP Newsletter – May 2018


Letter from Head of School:


Dear GVP friends,

I had the great privilege of attending the Clarkston High School graduation last Friday night at the Georgia World Congress Center. As I watched the six GVP alumnae walk across the stage to cheering crowds, I could hardly contain my emotions. I thought about the challenges each of these young women had overcome and what each one had achieved in the last 5 years.

These alumnae were particularly special to me because they were part of the first GVP graduating class after I became Head of School. They left GVP for Clarkston High School in the spring of 2014 and managed to successfully navigate all the hurdles and hardships of high school with great strength and with tremendous support from their village.

Our Global Village is a diverse community of care for newcomer refugee girls as they begin their educational journeys in the US and as those journeys continue on into high school, college, and life and careers beyond school. This year we celebrated the graduations of nine high school seniors and two college seniors—our first ever college graduates and our largest high school graduating class yet. Together, we celebrate these young women, their families, and all those who empowered and encouraged them.

Our GVP students come to this new home with dreams of high school and graduations. They dream of attending college and having careers that will allow them to care for their families and communities. These young women don’t give up on their dreams, despite the odds. They embody purpose and potential and inspire us all. They are representative of the millions of young women around the world who are denied basic education and representative of what is possible with access to excellent education and a community of support. They remind us that better education empowers a better world. To quote Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, “The only solution is education, education, education.”

We thank you for believing in our school and our vision of ensuring that all refugee girls have access to the education they need to pursue their dreams. We thank you for believing in our students and their dreams and for being a part of their village of support.

We enrolled our largest GVP class to date in 2018 and plan to serve at least 45 students again in 2019.  I encourage you to stay in touch with us on social media this summer and come back to see us in August. We all wish you a fabulous and fun summer, and again, thank you for helping us dream a better world, one girl at a time.

With much gratitude,

Staff Spotlight: 

Suzanne Townley

by Amy Berry Pun 

Suzanne Townley, Social Studies Teacher

Suzanne Townley joined the GVP teaching staff in 2015 as GVP’s Social Studies teacher. Her teaching skills, leadership, and friendship have made her an exceptional asset to our teaching staff! After spending periods of time overseas serving in Morocco and Peru as well as sightseeing in east Africa, she developed a love and interest in cultures other than her own.

Her experiences in education broadened after teaching Social Studies for nine years in the public school system, but it wasn’t until she worked at Clarkston High School that her eyes were open to the needs in the refugee community.

As the lead teacher for an after-school program at Clarkston High, Suzanne quickly noticed that the gaps in her students’ education were hindering them from learning and from developing the skills they needed to be successful in school. Suzanne remembers how many students were merely doing their best to survive high school.

Overjoyed to discover GVP, Suzanne loved the school’s mission and focus on meeting each young woman exactly where she is and providing support for her needs in literacy development, as well as her social and emotional needs. She explains, “When girls leave GVP they will know some U.S. History, World History, and Human Geography. More importantly, they will have the literacy and English skills to continue learning and to be successful in high school and college if that is what their families want for them.”
Many students from this year’s Form 3 class entered Form 1 unsure how to start an English sentence or use a journal. Suzanne reflects how, three years later, these girls are defending oral and written arguments about the constitution! “Now, this group of girls is a cohesive group. They love and care for each other deeply across cultural differences.”

Suzanne reflects on her time at GVP with fondness. She loves Social Studies and has enjoyed pouring her enthusiasm for the subject into our girls. Our students’ passion and excitement about life and its new opportunities allowed for classroom experiences that were hardly ever dull! It was hard not to smile at the fun classroom and hallway exchanges that Suzanne often had with the girls. These moments shared with students were invaluable, sometimes even more so than the lesson for the day.

Many times, the girls were curious to know about the friendship that Ms. Suzanne and I have, a friendship that seems similar to their own friendships with each other. We catch up, share, and connect like they do! Relationships are a big part of what makes GVP different. We welcomed “Mr. Suzanne” (Alvin Townely) into our classroom, celebrated Kensington’s birth (Suzanne’s daughter), and grieved the loss of Bella (Suzanne’s cocker spaniel).

Now we mourn the leaving of our excellent Social Studies teacher and friend. Ms. Suzanne is taking time to focus on family, as she pours her love and energy into her daughter, new home and extended family in Roswell. She’s looking forward to connecting with the international communities near her new home. While she will always be a part of our GVP family, she will most assuredly be missed! We will look forward to seeing her back from time to time at Author’s Teas or through our collaboration at the High Museum of Art. Ms. Suzanne, thanks for three great years!



Volunteer Spotlight: 

Pia Ahmad 


by Julia Levy

Pia Ahmad, Board Member

Miss Pia has a pure heart. When I was at GVP, and she found out my mom passed away and I had a daughter to take care of, she became my friend, and told me I could ask her for help any time. When I was living with my cousin and his family at The Lakes apartments, we had a heavy rain and the apartment flooded.  Miss Pia and her husband came over and helped us move all of our things to another apartment. I was so grateful.”          
Kaltouma Saleh, GVP Alumna

Pia Ahmad, volunteer, mentor, and two-term Board Chair of the Global Village Project, found her way to GVP by googling “girls,” “education,” and “international”—the three things she was most passionate about.  Global Village Project popped up on the screen. She had been involved with another nonprofit that raised money for schools in developing countries but became frustrated at never getting to see the schools or monitor their progress. “I showed up for a GVP Development Committee meeting and the next thing I knew (former board member) Barbara Thompson told me I had to get involved right away. She told me that a new family from Afghanistan had just arrived and that they came through Russia. Since I spoke Russian, she asked me to take care of the family.” Pia was soon tutoring Robika, the teenage daughter, getting to know the family well, helping the son with job interviews, and, in that way, becoming involved with the work of GVP.

A year later Pia took a job with the City of Atlanta. “My job was process-oriented,” she said. “I felt I was born into this world to do different things.”  A year later she attended an Authors’ Tea at GVP.  “I remember standing in the corner, hearing the girls sing ‘This Land is Your Land,’ and I just wept. I thought to myself: I’m a fortunate person with a comfortable life. This is my calling and this is where I need to be.

Becoming more deeply involved at GVP meant joining the board. Pia became Vice Chair, and then Chair of the Board, playing a pivotal role in guiding GVP through a reorganization that brought Amy Pelissero in as Head of School. “It’s always been important for me to be involved strategically at GVP, but also as a volunteer,” Pia says.

Pia is now bidding farewell to GVP, moving with her family to London this summer.  But her years working with the board, staff, volunteers and especially the students at GVP have had an indelible impact on her and the work she will do in the future. “I would really like to continue to work with refugees in London, and that’s because of GVP and my experience there,” she explains.  “I would love to visit the refugee camps—learn a skill and help in the camps. I also want to stay involved with refugee education.”

I have had the privilege to get to know, work with, and have fun with Pia Ahmad: first, as a fellow board member; then, as a GVP staff member; and, finally, as co-mentors to Kaltouma Saleh. I have witnessed first-hand her commitment to GVP, her intelligence, and her drive. Most importantly, though I have witnessed her warmth and generosity toward her friends, colleagues and, especially, the students and alumnae of GVP.  We will miss you, Pia, and expect you to visit us often!



STEAM Career Day 2018 – May 2nd


Above and below:
GVP girls engage with STEAM Professionals, doing hands-on activities related to dentistry, neurology and textiles.


On May 2nd, GVP hosted its first Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Career Day. Students spent the day engaging in STEAM -inspired activities including a building challenge, owl pellets, and a coding Scratch game. The students also participated in activities facilitated by our presenters who all worked in STEAM fields. For Career exploration, dentist Dr. Zerita Buchanan talked to the girls about what dentists do, how to prepare oneself to become a dentist, and how to care for one’s teeth; Neuroscientists Drs. Constance and Jacob Shreckengost, taught the students about parts of the brain and the importance of protecting their brains; and textile designer Jen Gin helped the students understand how to pick colors and textures for new designs. Furthermore, the students continued the study of owls (from our trip to Washega 4-H Center) by finding the bones of owls’ prey while dissecting owl pellets. They also practiced programming Lego robots, learned how to create digital games on SCRATCH, and participated in a building challenge to build a free-standing tower out of spaghetti noodles and tape that could hold up a marshmallow. Thanks to our guest presenters for sharing their STEAM careers and the other guests and GVP’s support team for making our first STEAM Career Day a hit.


GVP Performs  – May 11th

Above and below:
GVP students performing at the annual Playmaking For Girls showcase. 


Thanks to Synchronicity Theatre’s Playmaking For Girls Program Director Susie Purcell and her teaching team, including Jennifer Denning and intern Rachael Hayes Crouse, for helping GVP girls share their voices and stories! Thanks to everyone who attended GVP Performs! at the Decatur Library on Friday, May 11th. Your support for our students and for arts integration in our school is greatly appreciated. We look forward to sharing more of our drama and our stories with you next year!



Form 3 Graduation  – May 12th 

Above and below:
Form 3 students, staff, and family members at the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church for GVP Graduation 2018.


On May 12th, 13 Form 3 students were honored for completing GVP’s academic program, and 2 departing students were recognized for their accomplishments. The graduation celebration included song dedications to and by the graduates and certificate presentations. The ceremony was followed by a GVP family potluck lunch. Thanks to all the family and friends who came out to celebrate our students and their successes. Welcome to the GVP alumnae village, Graduates! Remember that you will always be part of our GVP family! We love you and can’t wait to see the wonderful things you will do in the world!




GVP’s Got Talent & Last Day of School Celebration – May 24th 

Above and below:
Our last day of school activities at GVP.


The 2017-2018 school year is a WRAP, and we are officially out for summer break. On May 24th we had our annual end of year celebration, which included our GVP’s Got Talent showcase; student awards; faculty, staff, & volunteer appreciation; lunch and more. Dr. Amy awarded CORE Value certificates for respect, appreciation, kindness, responsibility, and lifelong learning, and teachers recognized students with Guided Reading Awards. We sang together and said our goodbyes to departing students and staff. We ended with a dance party and wished everyone a safe and happy summer! We look forward to being back together in August!

May 28, 2018

Summer 2018 Schedule at GVP



Starting on Monday, May 28th, 2018 the GVP’s administrative office has a modified schedule during the weeks of summer 2018. Our administrative office will be open for visitors or appointments from 10:00am to 3:00pm, Tuesday-Thursday. Our staff will be available by email Monday-Friday (unless on vacation).

GVP administrative office will be closed the week of July 2-6.
*The school will be open for book club on July 3rd from 4-6pm ONLY.

Our main office number is 404-371-0107. Please call ahead or email the appropriate staff member to schedule an appointment. Again, due to GVP’s irregular office hours for the summer, we request that visitors DO NOT drop by Global Village Project/Decatur Presbyterian Church between May 28th-July 27th for GVP administrative business unless you make an appointment. If you need to contact GVP this summer, please email the following staff members:

Dr. Amy Pelissero (Head of School)
Teni-Ola Ogunjobi (Community Engagement Associate) – for volunteer/intern/mentor, communications or partnership related inquires
Martice Sutton (Donor Relations Manager) – for development/fundraising related inquiries
Denise Reidy-Puckett (Operations Manager) – for academic, administrative, or facility operations related inquiries
Dr. Cassie Leymarie (Assessment & Curriculum Coordinator) – for academic related inquires
Kimberli Render (Arts Coordinator) – for arts related inquires
Anne Garbarino (Book Club Coordinator/Literacy Coordinator) – for book club related inquires


Some GVP students will attend Decatur Family YMCA’s Summer Camp during the weeks of June 18-22 and June 25-29. Some students will also attend the YMCA’s overnight camp the week of July 2-6.

GVP will host Enrollment Day on Saturday, August 4th (location TBD). We will begin our 2018-2019 school year on Monday, August 6th. Regular volunteers will NOT return to service until the week of August 13th-17th.

May 17, 2018

We’re Hiring!



Work at GVP:

Grants & Communications Manager (FT)

(Please see position description for details about how to apply.)


Global Village Project is currently recruiting for two 2018-2019 School Support AmeriCorps Member position through Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMV)! Click the service description below for details on the positions. Learn more about Notre Dame Mission Volunteers and their program before completing your application.

To apply, complete and application via NDMV’s website: APPLY HERE. Contact NDMV’s Site Director, Alison Sheldon, at, and/or the GVP Site Supervisor, Teni-Ola Ogunjobi, at if you have questions.

School Support AmeriCorps Member 2018-2019

May 7, 2018

GVP Newsletter – April 2018




GVP’s Annual Gala:

Tribute to Education 


The 2018 Tribute to Education held on Sunday, April 29th at The Temple was a wonderful evening filled with friends of GVP who came together for fun and fundraising.


 Thanks to our community, GVP raised over $250,000 to provide quality educational programming for refugee girls in Atlanta including STEAM integration, experiential learning, and one on one counseling.


We are grateful for the generosity of our guests, volunteers, and local businesses for making this event such a big success. Special thank you to ISHR GroupCORE International ConsultingAccelebrateApres DiemCafe AlsaceGraphic SolutionsLeon’s Full ServiceShepard Exposition ServicesZest CateringRefuge Coffee Co., and Soiree Catering & Events



Over 200 people enjoyed our GVP ensemble; an inspiring keynote message from one of our first college graduates Bertha Nibigra, and a lively auction.



Global Village Project cannot continue its work without your support.  If for any reason you weren’t able to give during the event, there’s still time for you to make your Tribute gift!

Volunteer Spotlight: 
Connie Bryans

by Paul Varian

Connie Bryans, Board Member


Connie Bryans, who will soon conclude a 6-year tenure as a board member of the Global Village Project, has forged a legacy of activism as a volunteer and fundraiser for worthy causes.

“It never occurs to me to say no,” is her motto.

Connie spent 30 years as a “special needs” mostly high school teacher in Decatur, nearby Avondale Estates and elsewhere and helped raise and nurture six children from broken families, both girls and boys, as an unofficial foster mother.

She retired from teaching in 2005, after her father’s death, to help run his farm and real estate businesses in Morgan County, Ga., as well as the family foundation. She also  started doing volunteer fundraising and development work for the immigration resettlement and services group now known as New American Pathways.

Refugees became her focus on a frigid December day when she and her close friend Margaret Lunsford, then a middle school counselor, went to an apartment complex to pick up one of Margaret’s students and his two sisters — refugees who had to leave their mother behind in the East African nation of Burundi — for a Christmas trip to the mall to see Santa and buy presents.

“It was 23 degrees and all these kids came to greet us with no shoes on,” Ms. Bryans recalls. How could there be such deprivation just a 10-minute drive from her affluent community of Avondale, she thought — “so much need, so much abundance.”

“I thought I could bring those kids resources from Avondale,” she said.

Then Connie discovered GVP and went to an “Authors’ Tea” where she was stunned by the story recited by an African refugee student: “She had 13 brothers and sisters and they had all died of starvation.”

That prompted Connie to sign on as a GVP volunteer, helping to set up future Authors’ Teas where the students are the authors — they write and read their stories for gatherings of donors, volunteers and others inspired by the cheerful dedication of the adolescent girls from an ever-changing variety of cultures.

She soon became involved in development projects and fundraising for GVP and became a board member, serving the maximum two three-year terms.  She steps down in July but will continue her work for GVP.

“I’m pleased where we are today — how advanced we’ve become in serving the students,”she said.

Connie is mentor to GVP graduate Niza Vang, a nearly straight-A junior at Meadowcreek High in Gwinnett County, and recently took her to visit the sprawling and picturesque campus of Berry College in Rome, Ga., the first stop on her tour of potential colleges.

Connie, who also volunteers as co-president of the Madison-Morgan County chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America, said she was drawn to Global Village because of its “warm, caring environment,” unlike public schools.

“I tell everybody it’s the ‘Golden Ticket’ if they can get their daughter into the school.”


GOTR Practice 5K –  April 10th

Above and below:
GVP girls practice for their 5K Run.
Our first ever Girls On The Run Heart & Sole team practiced running a 5K around Agnes Scott College on April 10th. The practice 5K was in preparation for the program’s 5K run on April 28th around Atlantic Station.

GOTR Program Finale 5K Run – April 28th


Above and below:
GVP girls on the run team at Atlanta Station for the program’s finale 5K Run

On April 28th, our first ever Girls On The Run Heart & Sole team participated in a 5K Run around Atlantic Station! This run was the the program’s culminating event. Thanks to our staff, volunteers, and GVP family members that ran with our girls and thanks to those that came out to cheer us on. Special thanks to Girls on the Run for providing GVP with a scholarship team! We appreciate the running shoes, running pants, water bottles, amazing memories and more! This program has been a great addition to our school. Our students were challenged and had so much fun. We are thankful for GOTR and its impact on the lives of young girls!




GVP Presents Authors’ Tea… Coding at GVP!

On April 13th, GVP girls gave the audience an introduction to codes, explained how to use Scratch coding, and Illustrated how they use codes in Math, Geography, and Music. The girls also presented songs they wrote inspired by their coding unit. Special thanks to our Authors’ Tea host, Susan Bennett and the women of First Baptist Church of Decatur. We are grateful for our GVP community and new and old friends that joined us for our final Authors’ Tea of the school-year.



*Click here to read the FULL version of our April GVP Newsletter*

March 30, 2018

GVP Newsletter – March 2018


Staff Spotlight: 
Crispin ILombe Wilondja

by Teni-Ola Ogunjobi

Crispin ILombe Wilondja, Bus Driver

On March 23rd, our staff member Crispin ILombe Wilondja received the Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network (GAIN)’s Client Inspiration Award at their Go Formal For Freedom gala. Crispin was honored for being a role model in the immigrant community and for showing our clients all they can achieve in the United States. GAIN’s mission is to provide free immigration legal services to victims of crime and persecution. Every year, GAIN’s Go Formal for Freedom Gala honors amazing supporters including clients, volunteers, and community leaders who have advocated on behalf of GAIN and the clients we serve. The Executive Director of GAIN, Monica Khant, gives background on Crispin’s connection to GAIN and on the award:

Crispin was honored as our 2nd Client Inspiration awardee for his efforts and work on behalf of the refugee community. Crispin came to GAIN as an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo and received asylum status based on the persecution he suffered in his home country. The volunteer attorney team from Alston & Bird (David O’Neal, Brendan Krasinski, Elizabeth Gingold Clark, & Richard Grice) assisted Crispin with filing his asylum application and represented him at the interview. They were deeply affected by Crispin’s journey to the United States and went above and beyond in their representation of him. Since receiving asylum and because of his journey as an asylum seeker, Crispin has made it his mission in life to welcome refugees and ensure that they acclimate to a new country. He just wants to make things easier and better for refugees as they embark on a new chapter in life in a new country. It is for his tireless efforts and his energy and love for this population that he is receiving the GAIN’s Client Inspiration Award. Crispin is an inspiration to the community and is a voice for those who need it the most. We are grateful for Crispin.

To the GAIN community, Crispin was a client and their 2018 Client Inspiration Awardee; to the refugee resettlement agency Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) he is a Resettlement and Immigration Case Manager; and to our Global Village Project (GVP) community, he is a Bus Driver. He leads Good Samaritan Ministry and he is a husband and father. Crispin has fulfilled many roles in his life and in the larger community of refugees, immigrants, and agencies that serve refugees and immigrants in Metro Atlanta. The back story that led him to these current titles is a story that is important to share with our community.

Crispin is a former Catholic priest from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He earned a master’s degree in Moral Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California in 2009. He returned home and was assigned to be the pastor of a very poor parish in a suburb of Kinshasa. There he experienced the dire situation of his congregation. His parishioners were destitute and suffering from all the ravages of extreme poverty.

“Facing such a situation, I decided to start speaking out against the government, denouncing their greed and daily violations of human rights in my sermons. As the result, I became the target of the government. I was arrested three times, tortured, beaten … my life was regularly threatened … My mother was beaten, injured, my cousin and my sister were both raped… Since I could not stop denouncing the government’s inaction toward my people’s suffering, the government planned to physically kill me. I was then obliged to flee Congo,” Crispin explains.

His journey in Georgia began in 2011 when he arrived and first contacted GAIN, who connected him to his pro bono attorneys and helped him file for and receive his asylum status in 2012. He started working with the refugee community in 2014 as a French, Swahili, Lingala, and Kikongo interpreter with GAIN. There was an influx of Congolese refugees being resettled by LSG, so they needed a case manager to support this community and Crispin was a great fit. In his role as a case manager with LSG, Crispin’s goal is to welcome refugees, empower them, and lead them to thriving in the U.S.

“For my work, I define myself as a bridge on which refugees pass coming from the refugee camps to America… When I work with refugees every day, what I get to see every day is hope, resilience, determination, love of life and appreciation for being able to rebuild their lives.” Crispin adds.

It was in his role as a case manager with LSG that Crispin started engaging with GVP. We receive the bulk of our students through referrals from case managers at refugee resettlement agencies in Georgia. Crispin referred a number of students to GVP and facilitated family visits to our school beginning in the spring of 2017. Our bus drivers are key members of our community because they serve as necessary liaison for our GVP students and families to the school. Crispin was an ideal candidate for this role because he has ties to the community, exceptional language skills, and bus driving experience.

“He has helped make a connection between us, the refugee serving agencies, and some of the families at GVP. He has a big heart and he understands how important GVP is to a better future for the girls and their families,” explains GVP Operations/Bus Program Manager, Denise Reidy-Puckett.

Crispin enjoys his role at GVP because he considers it a continuation of his role as a case manager and because he sees the students from point of entry to the United States and through their education.

“I used to teach, so I know the gaps in education for our girls. I am also case manager of a few of our current students. Bringing them to GVP where they have individualized education, I feel happy to bring them here to get the foundation and basics tools they need to get to the level they must reach to continue their education. GVP is a special opportunity for these refugee girls and to be a part of offering this opportunity to a girl is the best gift I can offer to a girl, a family, to a community,” Crispin states.

Discovering the love and consideration that GVP girls have for him is a memorable experience for Crispin. He feels the embrace from students who he serves through case management and also students that do not know him well.

“Once I switched from driving my usual bus route to another bus route, and once I returned, the students hugged me and said, ‘ Mr. Crispin, we missed you on our bus.’ They find something greater in me than just someone who drives them. It’s something special,” says Crispin.

Crispin returns the embrace from the girls by using love, patience, and compassion in his role. Love helps him understand, accept and forgive; patience helps him hold his judgement; and compassion helps him overcome the challenges and be empathic when working with the students.

While serving in many capacities in the refugee and immigrant community, Crispin has developed relationships with many people. One common thing that shocks people about Crispin is his consistent ability to have such a joyful attitude.

“When they learn about my journey, they are surprised that I can be so joyful and positive despite my experience,” adds Crispin.

This joyful attitude has been a wonderful addition to our GVP team and his incredible journey is inspiring.


GVP Students Participate in
Nationwide National School Walk Out


GVP students expressed their First Amendment rights during a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with the National School Walk Out on March 14th at 10AM. Their participation was an outcome of learning about First and Second Amendment rights, the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and researching peaceful protests. Students were asked how they felt about the walkout and they all chose to prepare and to participate in the 17-minute walk out–1 minute for every life lost at Parkland–along with the thousands of students across the country. We marched around the perimeter of our school and up onto the plaza above the Decatur MARTA station. Thanks to our GVP community members who joined with us as we stood up for peace and for those whose lives were lost in Parkland.



The New Americans Celebration 2018


The New Americans Celebration (NAC) organized by the Coalition for Refugee Service Agencies is always a good experience for new Americans and refugee/immigrant supporters. Lutheran Services of Georgia Case Worker/GVP Bus Driver, Crispin ILombe Wilondja, participated in a skit to show NAC participants how to discuss issues with their representatives. Our Board Member & Mentor Steve Heckler represented GVP as an NAC Team Leader. Steve facilitated training with his group that included tips on engaging legislators. Groups put advocacy in action by visiting representatives’ offices and calling them out of session. Thanks to everyone that joined us for #NAC18 at the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Georgia State Capitol.


AmeriCorps Week 2018: 
2017-2018 AmeriCorps Member Highlight

by Teni-Ola Ogunjobi

How do we love thee? Let us count the ways… during AmeriCorps Week 2018 from March 11th-17th, we showed love to GVP’s first ever AmeriCorps Member, Kate Mull. Kate is our School Support AmeriCorps Member, so her role is essential to our daily academic, administrative, and enrichment work at GVP. Kate is also one of the few people who are at GVP from the beginning of the school day to the end, so we are always impressed by her work ethic and love the energy she adds to our team. She acts as a tutor to students individually, facilitates guided reading sessions in small groups, assists teachers with classroom instruction, serves as a coach for our Girls on the Run program, and so much more. She illustrates the essence of AmeriCorps everyday by getting things done in a major and excellence way at GVP! We love you Kate and we are lucky to have you serving at our school! Thank you!





The time is here! Our annual Tribute to Education Gala is April 29, 2018, at the Temple on Peachtree and we want you there! You can purchase tickets TODAY!

*Click here to read the FULL version of our March GVP Newsletter*

March 7, 2018


Following DeKalb County School District, GVP will release students early on Wednesday, March 7th due to the water main break near Buford Highway. No volunteers, interns, or other service members should report to GVP. We will send early buses home at 11:00AM and late buses home at 12:00PM. Thank you for your patience and understanding! 

Please check Global Village Project and DeKalb County School District’s website, emails, calling posts, social media, and/or local news media outlets for updates regarding the weather and school closures.

March 2, 2018

GVP Newsletter – February 2018


Staff Spotlight: 
Kimberli Render

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.


Intern Highlights: 
Spring 2018 Interns

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:

Veneeta Danhoui
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.

Brynn Champney
ESOL/Literacy Intern
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.

Vanessa Villalpando 
Development/Marketing Intern
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.

Yishan Bernard  
General Intern 
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.

Dawson Verley
Research Intern
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.


LaShan Coburn
ESOL/Literacy Intern
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.


Clarke Henderson
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.

Rachael Crouse
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.


​O’Neilia Francis ​
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.

Justin Fredericksen
ESOL/Literacy Intern
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.


Jessica Johnson 
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.

Ori Attah 

STEAM Intern

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.






*Click here to read the FULL version of our February GVP Newsletter*

February 15, 2018

GVP Open House 2018 – March 8th


Are you interested in sending your daughter to Global Village Project? Do you know a student who is interested in attending Global Village Project? We are currently recruiting girls ages 11-18 years of age for the 2018-2019 academic year who have been in the country less than three years and need support to be successful in the public school system. See application process and enrollment information HERE. Please plan to attend the open house to meet GVP staff, tour the school, and drop-off a completed application. Translators/Interpreters will NOT be on site to assist families.

Thursday, March 8th, 2018 from 9:00AM – 11:00AM

205 Sycamore Street, Decatur GA 30030

(enter GVP on the Church Street side of Decatur Presbyterian Church, under the burgundy awning).

We’re located across from the Decatur MARTA station.

February 2, 2018

GVP Newsletter – January 2018


Staff Spotlight: 
Martice Sutton

by Daphne Hall 

Introducing Martice Sutton, Donor Relations Manager

Believe it or not, Martice found her way to GVP while doing a google search for volunteer opportunities. “I’ve always had a passion for girls’ education and wanted to get more involved with international communities in Atlanta. A simple google search to volunteer turned into an awesome career opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

On a day-to-day basis, Martice seeks and cultivates relationships with donors. She might be found at a GVP Authors’ Tea, at a meeting with an Atlanta family foundation, or calling on individuals to secure sponsors for the annual Tribute to Education Gala. Together, Martice’s training, non-profit experience, outgoing nature, and passion for “all things international” make her a good fit for Global Village Project. Her training includes a B.A. from Spelman College and an M.S. in Non-Profit Management from the University of Pennsylvania.

Since her formal education, she has worked both in India and the United States. She began her career in management and operations in Hyderabad, India, working for an organization that focused on affordable private schools. In the states, she has focused on development and fundraising for several organizations, including Ashoka Innovators for the Public, The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, and Families First.

Even given wide experience, Martice says, “I have truly never experienced an organization that is as dedicated and committed to its mission as GVP students, staff, partners, parents, and volunteers. I love the community and village at GVP!”

Sunday Supper for Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend 2018


GVP Curriculum & Assessment Coordinator, Dr. Cassie Leymarie, and Community Engagement Associate, Teni-Ola Ogunjobi, join volunteer group for Sunday Supper.

Dana Diment and friends for invited GVP staff to participate in their self-organized Sunday Supper on economic inequality on January 14th. The dinner was a part of Hands on Atlanta and Civic Dinners‘ initiative to scale Sunday Suppers across Atlanta and explore economic inequality then & now. The Sunday Supper conversation examined the Poor People’s Campaign, which was the focus of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the final years of his life. Our dinner, in particular, included an educational component on GVP, girls’ education, and refugees. Thanks for letting us engage in the topic and add to the conversation.

GVP Alumnae Spotlight: 
Zai Iang 

by Karen Leary & Daphne Hall 

Achieving Her Goals


Zai Iang plans to become a hospital nurse when she finishes school, and GVP has been an important part of her life as she has worked toward that goal. She is currently enrolled in Georgia State University where her mentor Karen Leary met with her to conduct this interview back in October, 2017. When they talked, Zai reflected on her journey as a student and the impact of Global Village Project on her life.

Zai attended GVP for a year in 2011 and credits the school for her success in overcoming her fears. “Back when I first started school at public school, I was very nervous. I didn’t know the language. It was very scary because I barely had friends and was always alone. After I went to GVP and graduated from GVP, it was just like I overcame everything that I used to be scared of. [Even] now, compared to where I was back in the day, it’s very different because I guess I’m not scared of anything anymore. I can do everything by my own [efforts]. I mean, I always need help, but, what I mean is, anything you have to do alone, I used to be scared of, but I overcame that fear.”

She further explains that, “GVP is a very good school for people like us, like me or my sister who got to attend GVP…for the beginning people who come to America and just don’t know anything about American culture. It is a very good foundation for students like us to attend and then continue our lives and know more about Americans and the system of school so that we can achieve any goal in the future.” She also appreciates the teaching at GVP. “When you don’t understand about something, they will explain things to you until you get what you need. You can always go back there any time you need help. They are always ready for you whenever you need help.” Zai also praises mentors. “They help you any time you need help and they are always available when you need help. Yeah.”

How did Zai get from GVP to GSU? “After I left GVP, I transferred to Clarkston High School. Then my parents bought a house in the Tucker area and I moved to Tucker High School. I graduated there back in 2016. Since I graduated, I took a break first semester to get my financial aid ready and then I attended Georgia State University starting in January, 2017.”

Like many college students, she balances part-time employment with attending classes at GSU. “I used to work at Metro PCS, but now I work at Banner Butter,” a small, local business that makes butter from hormone-free, grass-fed cows. “We form the butter, package the butter, get it ready for shipping, and then ship it. I like it because it’s very easy and it matches with my schedule so I can go to school.” What does this mean to Zai? “On my work days, I don’t have any classes, so it’s really good.” She also has the advantage of being able to live at home with her parents and siblings. Her dad works at night for the Cargill company; her mom takes care of her older sister’s children; her sister Siang (who attended GVP) will graduate from Tucker High School this spring; and her brother Samuel is in the 11th grade there.

Even though she knows that it is not easy for people to stay in school, she advises GVP students to persevere because the rewards are worth it. “Sometimes they give up. They say school is too hard.” She encourages other students by saying, “if you stay in school and focus on your work, I am pretty sure that you will achieve your goal. And, later on, you will be a great person in your life and then get a good job. Yes.”

Keep up the good work, Zai!


Shabbat Shirah Service

Above and below:

GVP Chorus sings at a Shabbat Shirah Service hosted by Congregation Bet Haverim.

 On the evening of January 26, GVP Chorus performed at the Shabbat Shirah Service hosted by Congregation Bet Haverim (CBH) at Oakhurst Baptist Church. This annual observance celebrates the connections between justice, freedom, music, and dance. This year the CBH focused on the journeys and circumstances of refugees, immigrants, and the Dreamers who are currently at risk. Thanks to CBH for inviting our GVP Chorus to your service and being such a welcoming community.


January 19, 2018


Following DeKalb County School District, GVP will be closed again on Friday, January 19th. No volunteers, interns, or service members should report on Friday. Staff should report if road conditions permit safe travel. Please be safe. 


Please check Global Village Project and DeKalb County School District’s website, emails, calling posts, social media, and/or local news media outlets for updates regarding the weather and school closures.

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