Category Archives: Staff

Vilma Molina: An Interview

Vilma Molina has been working at The Hamlin School for 19 years, supporting the kitchen that feeds our community.

Tell us something about your childhood?

I’m from Chalchuapa, El Salvador, not far from the border with Guatemala. Much of the area is Mayan, but my family only spoke Spanish. My childhood was very tranquil. I grew up with four sisters and one brother. I loved listening to music and dancing. I danced cumbia, merengue, and salsa. I also liked to go to the movies and watch John Travolta. I really liked the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and disco music too. I graduated from a public high school in 1979. The Civil War in El Salvador started in 1980, I left that same year with my mother to go to the United States. I had a brother-in-law who was killed in the war, but the rest of my family survived.

What is your favorite part about working at Hamlin?

Being with the girls at lunch. They give me hugs, tell me about their plans for the weekend, sometimes share stories about other people they know from El Salvador. I also like the morning ritual of being the first one here to open the doors, I get here at 5:15 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. every day.

What is one thing most people wouldn’t know about you?

I have two sons, one is 35, the other is 29, they both live in San Francisco. I also have a three-year old granddaughter named Olivia. I’m a grandmother.

Do you have a favorite hobby?

I love to cook. I find recipes and cook Italian food, Chinese food, all sorts of dishes, but I can’t make papusas (a traditional Salvadoran food). I do make pan rellenos (bread covered with tomato and chile sauce) for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also love to make bean, pork, and chicken tamales.

What advice do you have for Hamlin students?

I’m Catholic, so I believe they should count their blessings.┬áThank God for everything. They have beautiful opportunities that other girls don’t have. Everyday I see how the girls respect and protect each other, that should continue.

Technology & Beekeeping: An Interview with Lawrence Fung

1. What is your role at The Hamlin School?

I’m the IT manager, I handle anything tech-related, computers, network, systems, hardware, trouble-shooting, the website and phone system. I help maintain the whole operation. I have a Master’s degree from USC in electrical engineering with a focus on computer networking, but I like the hands on stuff more than coding. With coding you have to sit in the same place for long periods of time. With my work now, I have more opportunities to run around, talk with different people and develop social skills.

2. Tell us about your connection to China?

I’m the only one in my family who came to the United States. I came to California in 1998, my parents and older sister still live in China. I’m from Heshan, Guangdong (near the southern coast, a few hours from Hong Kong). My father was a principal of a school. I try to get back to visit my family in China every year.

3. What is most similar/different about China/United States?

There are very few similarities, they both have McDonald’s, but that is about it. The biggest difference is air quality. The air here in San Francisco is pure, in China the air is very polluted because of all of the industry. There is also water pollution because of chemicals being dumped in rivers. My parents often go into the mountains to get spring water that isn’t contaminated. Culturally, Americans are more expressive than most Chinese people. I’ve slowly become more inclined to speak freely. The Chinese education system is focused entirely on academics, not on developing skills related to free speech and expression.

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