Dear GVP Friends and Community Members,
Memories of my boarding school in the Central African country of Cameroon are flooding back to me this week as I start a new chapter as CEO and Head of School at Global Village Project (GVP). I was ten years old, and the all-girls boarding school was about six hours away from the city where I grew up. It was a long way. I remember the anxious excitement of that adventure: of leaving home to pursue my education, of joining the sisterhood of an all-girls school, and of the eagerness to learn in this new environment. At the age of 16, I moved again, this time to the U.S. to attend college at Kennesaw State University. I can still recall my wide-eyed amazement at being in a school that had air-conditioning, computers, “facilities” – more amenities than I’d ever seen. Surely, these meant I had no choice but to succeed!
The experience of joining GVP is not dissimilar to that of starting school all those many years ago. That feeling of nervous exhilaration from my days as a schoolgirl is still fresh in my memory, even after 20 years of professional experience leading global organizations. Beginning a new leadership position gives me pause to reflect on what is critical for the future. How can I help these children succeed? What from my past will be valuable to share with them? How can I make this school and mentoring program even more effective? Every good leader should ask such questions of themself when embarking on a new opportunity. I trust that the answers will come in time.
What spurs me forward today is what piqued my interest when I first realized that GVP was searching for a new Head of School: the opportunity to work with girls in education. It encompasses so much of who I am, who I want to be and what I am passionate about. In the past five years, as CEO of Junior Achievement Africa, I had the opportunity to work with young people from across Africa and mentor many in other parts of the world, from New York to Riyadh. As I learned more about Global Village Project, I was hooked. On the website, in the faces of the students, I could see that same eager anticipation that I once had (and still have). My life’s journey has been bringing me to GVP’s mission of using a strengths-based approach to develop a strong educational foundation for each student within a caring community. I had to become a part of this family!
There are so many people that make up the GVP community: teachers, staff, volunteers, board of directors, advisory board, alumni council and funding-partners. I’m looking forward to meeting you and to working together to support the success of our students and alumni. It is strange to start a job in a pandemic – without having physically met the people I’ll be working with. Already, I feel welcomed. I feel like I belong, and I’m grateful to be able to use that sense of belonging as fuel to get me started. It will sustain me as I work to lead the school into its next phase of growth and impact.
With excitement and gratitude,
Elizabeth Elango Bintliff
CEO and Head of School