Castilleja Global Week (a look back at our future)

by Anis Salvesen

When I see natural disasters and wars in the news, it makes me wonder for a moment if the planet is headed on a steady path to its ultimate destruction.   Pretty bleak thoughts, I know.

That’s why I am so glad I attended the last day of Global Week at Castilleja School , an all-girls high school in Palo Alto a few weeks ago.  Global Week is an annual event during which the entire school devotes an entire week to examining global issues through a series of workshops, films, speakers, class projects, readings, service opportunities and panel discussions.

This year’s Global Week opened with a live stream cast of two-time Pulitzer prize winning author and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof talking to students about his most recent book Half the Sky. Another wonderful speaker was Dr. James Fearon, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, who gave the girls an overview of  causes of civil wars and engaged them in a question and answer session.  One last speaker I will mention is BJ Fogg, Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, who talked about the psychology of social media and the ways in which technology and media can be used to influence people.

Can you imagine a week of such great speakers?  I would almost be willing to go back to high school to experience it.  But I’ll settle for my great experience attending the final day of Global Week.

Seeing all of those young women excited about changing the world, already making a positive impact on their community and beyond, was just such a rush.  Sitting in the Castilleja auditorium, trying to suppress memories of my own socially awkward teen years, I was blown away by two of the students on the stage who were actually amongst the panelists.  And the panelists, the majority Castilleja alumnae, were doing the most fascinating work you can imagine. Below is a list of the panelists, who as you can see are amazing, amazing women* making such a positive impact on the world.

  • Transitional Justice in Central Africa – Myriam Khaldi, Lawyers Without Borders
  • Counterterroism – Malin Bogue , British Parliament
  • Coming of Age: Spirituality Through Work and Writing – Suruchi Mohan
  • Philanthropy: Leading us to a World of Trust – Pamela Hawley , UniversalGiving
  • Creating Peace through Art – Darlene Markovich, Missing Peace Project
  • Bridging the “Gap”: The Youth Service Movement – Abby Falik, Global Citizen Year
  • Caring for AIDS Orphans in South Africa – Tara Hopwood , Acres of Love
  • Leadership and Empowerment for Girls in India – Saima Hasan , Roshni Academy
  • Innovating Peace: – Malaika Ramachandran  and Sarah Felleman
  • YES: Yoga, Empowerment and Leadership – Ben Henretig*

Did you notice our CEO Pamela Hawley’s name in the list of panelists above?  She gave two great workshops the last day of Global Week.  The questions the girls asked impressed me.  One of the younger girls in one workshop, for example, noted that Pamela mentioned Brazil as the world’s largest producer of ethanol fuel and asked, “What are the environmental repercussions of using ethanol fuel versus more traditional energy sources like fuel oil and how will that play out politically?”

I’m actually paraphrasing the kid, but I’m telling you, these girls are sharp.  Luckily for us, they are our future.  They are engaged; they are energized.  And they are going to change our world.  Are you ready?


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