Category Archives: Global Citizenship

Leadership in Action: Symposium & Rise to the Challenge

Hamlin students are able to dynamically present knowledge and identify problems in the world, while coming up with creative solutions that integrate ideas from various sources of information. Grade 6 and 7 students use their skills in Science, Health, Math, Social Studies, Spanish, Technology and English to write and speak publicly about topics/issues facing our world both near and far.

The 6th grade Symposium is modeled after the Greeks and involves four weeks of intense study.  Students are able to select their own topic, do research, plan as a team, and deliver short formal presentations at the Century Club in San Francisco.  Students share their knowledge via Ted Talks, songs, spoken word poetry, public service announcements, and short documentary videos.  This year the following topics were covered: Human Trafficking, Women’s Role in the Development of Africa, Ancient/Imperial China, Propaganda in Government, Danger of a Single Story (Exploring Bias), Global Education for Women, Water Scarcity and Poverty, the Role of Identity in our Lives, the Cultural Revolution in China, and Gender Equity in Hollywood.

The 7th graders immerse themselves in Rise to the Challenge (RTC).  They have the opportunity to choose their own topics, do in-depth research, then share their findings, providing short and long term solutions to various problems.  Most teams use social media to generate awareness, including videos, websites, blogs, Twitter,, and Instagram.  This year RTC addressed the following topics: Homelessness in San Francisco, Reducing College Sexual Assault, Challenges Facing the Use of Drones, Access to Clean Water Globally, Access to Education for Girls Globally, the Impact of Plastics in our Oceans, Overfishing, Income Inequality Between Genders, Improving Public Education in San Francisco, Challenges Facing Transgender People, Technology and our Health, and the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

Below is a video from the RTC group, Hope for Homelessness:

As part of their research, Grade 7 students had the opportunity to interview individuals from several incredible organizations, special thanks to the following people:

Shiza Shahid (The Malala Fund), Ellie Adelman (Women Girls Lead Global), Tihana Vucur, (Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation, Adriatic Dolphin Project) Rufaro Kangai, (Global Fund for Women), Stacy Webb (Compass Family Services), Michelle Parker (San Francisco Parent Political Action Commitee), Bevan Dufty (San Francisco Politician and Leader), Leyla Ghaffari (Project Homeless Connect) Candace Yu (YouTube for Good), Suzanne Goldberg (Columbia University) Betty Nyagoha (The Amani Institute) Lila LaHood and Daphne Magnawa (San Francisco Public Press)


Hamlin Visits Holy Family Day Home

On May 10th, Hamlin 8th graders visited Holy Family Day Home in the Mission, an organization that we have worked with for many years. The visit was led by Hamlin’s middle school Spanish department.

Holy Family Day Home’s goal is to provide affordable, high quality, early childhood education and family support services in a stable and nurturing environment, thereby providing the children of working families skills and hope for lifelong development.  

Hamlin students began the morning by singing songs with the preschoolers and playing Simon Says, all in Spanish. Our students were then paired up with different Holy Family Day Home children to read books. Our girls brought their very own books written in Spanish with beautiful handmade illustrations. After sharing these fantastic stories, everyone went outside to play tag, soccer, and tumble around. The joy and energy between the younger and older students was palpable. One Hamlin student shared, today was just an adorable experience, their spirit is infectious.

Below is an example of book created by a Hamlin student.








After playtime, Hamlin students had the opportunity to learn more about program specifics from members of Holy Family Day Home’s leadership team. They learned about the food bank that provides nourishment for families in need and the emphasis placed on seamlessly integrating homeless and non-homeless students into classrooms.

To learn more about Holy Family Day Home, please visit:





Hamlin Says Farewell to Nonhlanhla Ntshengila

For most of the month of March we were very lucky to have Ms. Ntshengila visiting us from South Africa as part of the program, Teach With Africa. I had a chance to sit down with Ms. Ntshengila and listen to some of her thoughts about the experience of joining the Hamlin community.

Before coming to the United States she was worried about how she would be perceived in terms of her accent and skin color; but she left feeling that people were very nice. She shared that she gained a new level of independence and freedom by walking around San Francisco by herself, visiting places like Chinatown.

Ms. Ntshengila stated that she was very impressed with Hamlin’s math department. The importance of process is emphasized with math at Hamlin. Students must really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. In South Africa students don’t always understand why they are doing something, they just do it because they are told to.

Ms. Ntshengila was also impressed with Hamlin’s use of technology in the classroom. I thought the use of iPads in the classroom would be disruptive, but it is the opposite, the students are so focused on their work.

Apart from academics, I asked Ms. Ntshengila what impressed her most about San Francisco and Hamlin. The hills, there are so many, and eating green salads, I love the salad from the buffet.

Below is a short video of Ms. Nthshengila

To learn more about Teach With Africa, please visit:

Special thanks to the kind people who helped host the Nonhlanhla Ntshengila: Julie and Allen Benello, Hala Jimenez, and Heather Smith.

The Hamlin School would also like to recognize Hamlin grandparents and Founders of Teach With Africa, Marjorie and Larry Schlenoff.



Hamlin Spanish Department Hosts Kiva

Last week our Spanish department hosted two representatives from Kiva: Jessica Hansen, Global Engagement and Education Manager and Catherine Cocke, Online Marketing & Social Media Manager. Kiva is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization with a global reach.  It’s mission is to connect individual lenders with people around the world who need micro loans to improve their lives through small businesses, education, green energy, and a number of other projects.

Kiva relies on volunteer translators to communicate borrowers’ needs. Many seeking loans are from Spanish-speaking countries. Our 7th grade students spent time in Spanish class learning about Kiva and using language skills to translate sample loan profiles from Spanish into English. This use of the Spanish language is powerful and allows students to apply their understanding of vocabulary to real life situations.

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Hamlin Welcomes the Nonprofit: Simply the Basics


“What do you think of when you think about homelessness?”

This was the opening question posed to Hamlin 8th graders by the dynamic and altruistic Meghan Freebeck. Ms. Freebeck is the founder of Simply the Basics and has been recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as a 40 Under 40 honoree.

The Mission of Simply the Basics is to provide for individuals, organizations, and communities their most basic needs with dignity so that they can focus on bigger goals. We simply remove barriers, allowing people to have the opportunity to achieve.

The goals of Simply the Basics include:

-improving the overall health and wellbeing of low income families and people experiencing homelessness

-facilitating the operations of nonprofit organizations by securing and managing their in-kind donation process, allowing them to focus their time on clients

Here is some of what Ms. Freebeck shared:

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Hamlin Hosts Yoga For Good on International Women’s Day

On March 8th Hamlin celebrated International Women’s Day by participating in Yoga For Good.

Hamlin and the sixth grade class of ’19 hosted Yoga for Good to raise awareness about OneProsper (the nonprofit sponsoring Yoga For Good), an organization that is helping to fund rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation systems for women in the Thar Desert of India. As a result, women will be able to grow organic pomegranates for international markets, enabling them to spend more time on their children’s nutrition and education. Hamlin students have been studying India as part of their 6th grade social studies curriculum. This work has helped to enrich and strengthen their understanding of that region.

6th graders introduced the yoga sessions, explaining the importance of both International Women’s Day and Yoga For Good. Hamlin faculty members Kirstin Williams and Amy Conger then led students through yoga classes emphasizing both breathing and various poses. In the afternoon, parents, faculty members, and alumnae had the opportunity to meet to Raju Agarwal, the founder of OneProsper.

Below is a brief video of Hamlin 5th graders participating in Yoga For Good:

Special thanks to 6th grade teacher Heather Smith who helped organize this event.

For more information about OneProsper, please visit:


Hamlin Welcomes Syrian Speakers

In February we welcomed three guest speakers from Syria. Shahed, a 20-year old woman born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. Amer, a 23-year old man born and raised in Damascus, the capital of Syria. Khawlah, a 30-year old woman also from Damascus and a former teacher.

Here is some of what they shared:


-She showed photos of her former students and spoke about their hopes and dreams.

-She has a sister in Sacramento, but is separated from the rest of her family.

-She currently works at Wells Fargo.

I’m so grateful that the United States offered me a safe place to stay. I had to leave everything because I was afraid for my life. I can sleep at night here, I feel safe.

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Hamlin Learns about India and Oneprosper

On February 16th Hamlin’s 6th grade welcomed Arezoo Riahi from the nonprofit OneProsper and her friend, Madhavi Bhasin.

OneProsper is empowering women in India to break the cycle of poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy.

6th grade social studies is working with OneProsper as part of their comprehensive study of India.

Some key points from their talk were:

-Fetching water is viewed as women’s work in many parts of the world. Women in the Thar desert of Rajasthan have to walk extremely far to fetch water, and because of the amount of time it takes, it can prevent girls from having the opportunity to attend school.

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Hamlin Students Learn About Human Trafficking

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 21 million victims of forced labor and human trafficking around the world. Human trafficking and forced labor generate $150 billion dollars annually.

Today, Hamlin 6th graders listened to a panel discussion with the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The information they gained served to further their understanding of a topic that they are studying in social studies classes.

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Hamlin Kindergartener Supports Refugees

Hamlin kindergartner Lily and her sister Abby heard their parents discussing refugees and the recent travel ban. They became curious and wanted to understand why there were refugees. They wanted to know what makes someone a refugee? Their parents explained that many people had their homes destroyed by war and were looking for a safe place to start a new life. Immediately, Lily and Abby wanted to know how they could help.

Lily decided she wanted to have a bake sale for the refugees and donate all the money so they could come to United States and feel safe. This led into a longer discussion about other people who also needed help.

The girls selected three organizations to support with their bake sale based on their interests.

1. Helping the refugees (International Refugee Assistance Project)
2. Celebrating Love and people getting the support they need to be themselves (The Trevor Project)
3. Protecting the environment (Natural Resources Defense Council)

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