Acting Local to Think Global
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Connections are further extended through projects
that directly link students here with their contemporaries in
other countries. One such recent project brought together via
the Internet students from five middle schools in the San Fernando
Valley with those from two middle schools in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Working collaboratively with specialists affiliated with the International
Institute, faculty members at Holmes Middle School International
Humanities Magnet in Northridge designed a curriculum to build
common ground and facilitate exchanges between the American and
the Afghan students. At the same time, the National Geographic
Society produced a special map and the global aid group Relief
International provided translations, equipment and technology.
The exchanges between the students were quite revealing.
When asked about the "10 Things That Make Us Smile,"
the American students cited movies, malls, theme parks and air
conditioning; the Afghan students talked about girls again being
able to go to school — something that was prohibited under
the Taliban regime — and sharing the same classroom with
boys. Such interactions promote the goal of creating global citizens
and establishing connections between peoples across cultural and
Travel is another means to encourage connections.
Teachers have been taken on study tours of China, Korea and Japan,
after which they return with an abundance of resources, experiences
and good will that enriches their classroom instruction with fresh
content and enthusiasm. These experiences help to meet the national
need in the post-9/11 era for citizens, especially educators,
to gain firsthand knowledge of other societies and cultures, just
as visitors from abroad who have traveled here have learned to
value and appreciate the United States and its people.
While the impact of K-12 international- studies
outreach may be immeasurable in terms of intellectual stimulation
and professional growth for the teachers who go through such programs,
it is quantifiable in terms of the millions of students nationwide
who are the beneficiaries of enriched education across the pre-collegiate
curriculum. Students who have been exposed to these programs may,
like the young woman in the Arabic-language class, be inspired
to enroll in university courses that will help to further shape
them as global citizens. And by so doing, they will participate
in the fulfillment of the mission of the university, and that
of the International Institute to educate a new generation of
citizens and leaders "who are wise enough to know that an
open mind is the passport to a better future world, and committed
enough to devote their energies to building it."