In a brilliant move, Penn Museum hires refugees as guides to exhibits from their homelands

Imagine walking through a museum exhibit from the Middle East with a personal guide from that region explaining the artifacts. Imagine having the same experience as you move through galleries from different parts of the world, each time with a docent from that region who lends a personal touch by sharing first-hand perspectives.


That's the basis of Penn Museum's Global Guides program, which hires docents (the people who explain exhibits and show people around the galleries) from the regions being showcased. It's a brilliantly simple concept—a museum staff that is culturally representative of the artifacts it houses—but one that has not often been implemented. That may be one reason the program has taken off with great success.

Another reason may be because the docents the museum has hired come from the refugee and immigrant community—a win-win situation for both the people serving and the people being served.

According to NPR, Ellen Owens, director of learning and public engagement at Philadelphia's Penn Museum, noted that most of the museum's docents were aging. They were also mostly white. Owens thought that creating a more diverse group of docent might help the museum connect with more communities.

The museum is known for its collections from the Middle East, Africa, and Central America—regions that make up a large part of the global refugee community. So Owen and her colleague, Kevin Schott, decided to reach out to non-profit organizations serving refugees and immigrants to recruit new docents.

The Global Guides are trained in archaeology and ancient history and are able to share some of their personal stories with the people they guide through the exhibits. That personal touch makes all the difference.

"We really wanted to have the narratives of lots of different people, to bring the authentic voices of people that live in other places into the galleries of the museum," Owens told NPR.

For example, Clay Katongo fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo 33 years ago and now serves as a pastor in a West Philadelphia evangelical church. As a new Global Guide, he enjoys sharing African religious artifacts predating Christianity with museum-goers.

"I love this place," Katongo told NPR. "This is my culture. This is my story."

The Global Guides is truly a mutually beneficial program. "One of the big goals of this project was actually to provide jobs for people that are immigrants and refugees," Owens told NPR. Guides work part-time and are paid about $20 an hour. The Barra Foundation grant that funds them also helps them navigate employment details, such as filling out tax forms and going through HR procedures.

The museum, in turn, not only gets first-hand accounts from the areas of the world it's showcasing, but the new docents have also proved invaluable in helping to translate documents and helping with on-the-ground research.

Attendance at the museum has skyrocketed since the Global Guides program was implemented, with a third of visitors coming specifically because of it. Other museums around the world have begun implementing similar programs as well.

Well done, Penn Museum. Thank you for leading the way.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

via idiehlpare / Flickr and ESPN

An innocent tweet by sports reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques erupted into a great discussion where people tried to describe the indescribable. "There's an unnamed media member in here who has never had a Dr. Pepper and asked what it tastes like," he tweeted.

"I have no idea how to describe it -- how would y'all do it?" he asked.

Marcel Louis-Jacques covers the Miami Dolphins for ESPN and appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and more.

The question feels like a Zen koan such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What do you call the world?"

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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