A senior business reporter for Muvi Television in Zambia and the founder of Uplift the Girls, Pennipher Vida Sikainda came to Baldwin as a “citizen diplomat” through the Mentoring Partnership for Young African Leaders Program (MPYAL), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and locally sponsored by the International Visitors Center of Philadelphia. During her June 18-26 stay, she explored our sprawling campus, got chatting with members of our staff about what ‘female empowerment’ means in an all-girls setting, and even managed to squeeze in her first swim lesson. Now that’s female empowerment in action.
Having taken my first train ride in the city of Philadelphia, a feeling of anxiety gripped my heart as I entered the gates of Baldwin School for Girls.
Notably, the structure of the school is fascinating while the environment is serene and cannot be compared to that of a “regular” school. I was eager to see more. Unfortunately, my timing was not-so-perfect; I missed out on the “buzz” since the students were on their summer break.Regardless, I was still thrilled.
Fran Walish, director of marketing, and Dr. Mindy Hong, assistant head of school, welcomed me in their offices and gave me the opportunity to observe some of the administrative work that is done over the summer. It felt really good to learn about some of the programs of action aimed at making the school meet good standards. During one interesting meeting with Mindy, I learned what colors, tables, chairs and other important details were required for a Middle School class to have an appealing environment. I also sat in on meetings in which she finalized new staff recruitments for the year, and, most notably, demonstrated flexibility and assertiveness in satisfying staff while also serving in the best interest of the students.
When I walked through the somewhat confusing but colorful corridors that carry Baldwin’s mission statement, I managed to check out the Anne Frank library, featuring artwork by the children in Lower School, and the ultra-modern Athletic Center, where I even had my first swim lesson!
Plus, I couldn’t miss noticing Baldwin’s technology, including the use of MacBooks and iPads, in addition to smartboards. Baldwin has quite a unique learning environment.
Beyond the good facilities, I appreciate one fundamental element about Baldwin: the people. Managers of different departments made me feel so at home with their gracious reception and their willingness to provide information on how I can empower girls and women through my work in Zambia.
I conclude my program certain that the Baldwin spirit will live on in all my works.