GPA celebrates MLK across Philadelphia

Will Becker for GPA This past Martin Luther King Day, the Global Philadelphia Association was in full force in contributing to the educational discussion in celebrating Dr. King’s work. The day began at Girard College, in which GPA held a volunteer seminar at Global Citizen’s King Day event. The largest and oldest King’s Day of Service event in the country, approximately 6,000 individuals and families gathered for the festivities. GPA had a table in the civic engagement portion of the event, and this occurred alongside a job fair and other community-minded programming and activities.

In fact, Global Citizens and Aramark provided both breakfast and dinner for every attendee and organizer for the whole of the event. GPA staff engaged with attendees in promoting awareness for the city’s recent World Heritage City designation, along with providing information for volunteer opportunities. One of the major features of success for the organization was the World Heritage City coloring book, which flew off the shelves and was appreciated by everyone who came by. Many who took coloring books immediately came back to pick up more for friends and family upon reading and immersing themselves in them. Following the end of the fair at noon, many went on to the historic armory at Girard College to view an exclusive performance from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Simultaneously that day, Global Philadelphia participated in a workshop for educators who desire to serve and support their immigrant students. The "Immigrant Advocacy Training for Educators" workshop was organized by a Philadelphia teacher, Francesca de la Torre in partnership with GPA, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, and the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia. Held at the University of Pennsylvania's Greenfield Intercultural Center, the workshop brought together 25 educators and school support personnel from throughout the Philadelphia area. Francesca de la Torre presented background information on the immigrant population in Philadelphia and details on how to best support immigrant students and their families, including resources and services available in Philadelphia and online. Nikki Pumphrey from the Welcoming Center also presented on their services and opportunities and shared data on the contributions that immigrant communities have made to Philadelphia. Both of these presentations recognized the difficulties facing immigrant students and the effect that these difficulties have on learning, but overall, the focus was on the significant potential that immigrant students have and how to create a learning environment that unlocks that potential. GPA World Heritage Coordinator Melissa Stevens presented on the Philadelphia World Heritage Education Program and GPA Education Consultant Sarah Sharp led a discussion by asking participants "How can we use World Heritage to create a more supportive, welcoming, and inclusive global classroom?" In the presentation and discussion it was recognized that immigrant students are global citizens and can provide the foundation to a truly global classroom. Workshop participants were able to share their experiences and best practices in encouraging inclusive dialogue around the issues facing immigrant students and in celebrating the diversity within their classrooms and schools.
GPA is certainly looking forward to next year's festivities, and other opportunities for community engagement throughout the year.