World Wonder

Inspiring Global Citizenship

Who’s ready for a kindness party?

Spread kindness like confetti.

Image by Divine Designs Co.

Is anyone else tired of the negative headlines and the bullying and bashing that seems to have become the norm in our current political dialogue?  I’m tired of it.  Absolutely exhausted!  So, I’ve decided to combat this negativity by focusing on the positive.  I realize this is not always easy, but according to expert, Lisa Currie, “It seems there are good reasons why we can’t get enough of those addictive, feel-good emotions, as scientific studies prove there are many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits associated with kindness.”  The fact is that kindness is better for you.  And everywhere you look there are every day heroes working hard, caring for others, and standing up for progress. Instead of dwelling on the negative, I’d rather spend my energy celebrating these achievements and encouraging my students to focus on the positive and stand up for kindness.

In starting a new school year, with new students, new challenges, and new learning, one of my first lessons was to have a conversation about kindness. We began with a discussion about kindness and what it means, what it looks like, and how it feels.  We talked about the importance of using kindness with ourselves, our family and friends, our community, and mother earth.  We touched on themes of tolerance, empathy, compassion, and the beauty of diversity.  I than asked the students to create posters of kindness that we would hang in the classroom to remind ourselves of how we want to treat our world.  It was probably one of the most important lessons I could teach at the beginning of the year as we are meeting new friends, getting used to a new teacher, and adjusting to a new year of learning.  As a community we play a critical role in spreading kindness like confetti within our own homes, schools, and global communities.  And frankly, I think our world could use an extra dose of kindness, so let’s get this party started!

Here are some ways you can spread kindness like confetti in your world!

  • Check out this list of children’s stories about kindness. Share this list with your school or local library.
  • Learn how kindness is an essential part of whole child education.
  • Access some easy to use kindness curriculum for the classroom.
  • Read more about the mental and physical benefits of kindness.
  • Here is a resource for older students published by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • Here are some great project ideas for teaching empathy with a global perspective.
  • Organize service learning activities at your school and make it a part of everyday learning. Find many ideas here!

     

     

 

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Summer – Global Style!

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Picture: Author building sand castles, one of her all time favorite summer activities!

Who’s ready for summer break? I am!  I’m excited for a few months of no homework, less frantic mornings, and not having to race to school to beat the 8:20 am bell. It has been a wonderful school year full of inspiration, but it’s time to slow down and enjoy some different kind of learning. Below are a few ideas to celebrate summer – global style! And don’t forget to connect with World Wonder on Facebook, where you will find weekly updates, tips, and inspiration. Enjoy!

Summer with a global spin. Start here…

  • Get outside!National Geographic Kids is a wonderful resource for learning about the great outdoors. You can find their Get Outside Guidefilled with “fascinating facts and cool ideas for adventures in forests and fields, on beaches and playgrounds, in city parks, and even in your own backyard.”  Go on a stay-cation and explore a nearby national park or town that you have always wanted to visit. Have your kids help you plan your trip, map it out, provide your kids with cameras to record your adventure, keep a journal.
  • Tell your Story! – Introduce your child to children’s books in different languages or books about children around the world. How would your child write their story? How would your child share the books they love with other kids around the world? I recently discovered this online collection of Time for Kids articles that tell the story of young people around the world. What’s most fun about this resource is, for every country, they feature a Day in the Life of a local child. How would your child describe a day in their life? Have them create a book and think about sharing their story with a pen pal.
  • Run, Kick, Score! – Wouldn’t it be fun to explore the world through sports? What do local sports tell you about a culture? Are girls participating in sports in other countries, why? Why not? What sport would you like to try? You might even check out your local resources, for example, here in the Bay Area there is a thriving cricket league because of the large population of athletes from India. Wouldn’t it be fun to catch a local cricket match! I searched for a comprehensive book about sports around the work that might interest children, and I have yet to find anything. But here is a really fun list of games played around the world.
  • Create! – Does your child enjoy painting, drawing, using mixed media, crafts, fashion?  Art is one of the more accessible means for learning about a country, culture and people. Art can provide historical context, cultural lessons, connection and emotion. The Met has an interesting site that shows numerous traveling exhibits featuring art from around the world.
  • Dance Party! – You can learn a lot about a country and culture through their local music. Does your child enjoy making music, singing, dancing, acting, using instruments? I have always loved the assortment of global music offered by Putumayo. Share this musical magic and watch imaginations soar!
  • Bon Appetite! – Does your child enjoy cooking? How about exploring recipes from around the world, including the different ingredients, spices, and traditions around food. Food is another subject that can teach children a lot about a culture and unique traditions such as the local delicacies and celebrations around food. This online resource offers some really fun recipes from around the world.
  • Innovate! – For those children that love to create, experiment, invent, or tinker, there are many ways that these interests and skills can be applied in a global context. How are countries around the world impacted by innovation and access to technology? Why do some places have more access to today’s innovations over others?  How are technologies like solar energy, green construction, and new medical technologies impacting societies around the world? There is a wide array of resources available including learning resources from the national maker space movement, the Exploratorium, the Cal Academy of Sciences and the Tech Museum.   Challenge your children to explore the world through science and technology and you’ll be amazed by what they discover and create.
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Civic Engagement = Inspired Kids

 

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Inspiration tree at our local public school.

 

I’m not sure if any of us could have imagined the results of Nov. 8, 2016, but one thing is for sure, sometimes we need a shake up to wake up.  It felt like an important reminder that we shall never lay idle or take for granted the freedoms and general prosperity that most Americans enjoy.  So NOW is the perfect time for parents, educators, and communities to encourage our youngest citizens to get involved in issues that matter most to them.

Experts have found that civic involvement helps us build personal connections in addition to the typical ones we have through family, work, and leisure activities. When we participate in social action, community service, and political groups, we increase personal satisfaction because we engage with others on issues of mutual interest.

The connection between community involvement and happiness for children and teens has been evaluated. According to youth.gov:

  • Youth who volunteer are more likely to feel connected to their communities, do better in school, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
  • Youth are more likely to volunteer if their entire family is involved and this experience results in strengthened family bonds.
  • Students who performed voluntary community service were 19 percent more likely to graduate from college than those who did not.

Here are a few resources to encourage civic engagement in our youngest citizens:

 

 

 

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Learning Ignited!

Students waving hands in the air.

Author with students in Thailand.

With back to school here, I thought it would be fun to feature one of my earlier blogs that still seems relevant.  For additional ideas on how to ignite global learning in your classroom and at home, take a look at some of my favorite resources.  So here it is…

Back to school fever is on!  After a fun filled summer of travel, outdoor play, beach time, and lazy mornings, it is time to settle in to another activity packed school year.  In today’s global learning environment where schools are experimenting more with blended learning, UDL and online curriculum, I get excited to think about how we can better serve our kids through more project based learning, collaborative assignments and global interaction. Today’s global economy is for real! How can we as a community better prepare our students with the skills, tools and knowledge they need to successfully participate in this more complex and intertwined world. Below are a few ways we can incorporate more global awareness and learning in the classroom environment. By providing a diverse range of ways to access information, I believe more students will get excited about learning and experience improved outcomes overall.

  • Incorporate a global corner in every classroom where students can access books in various languages, music, art-making, photographs and other resources. Use this corner as a place to explore the world and access information in a variety of formats and media.
  • Create monthly exhibits in a classroom. Involve the students and ask them what topic they would like to explore. For example, if the topic is global health, each student can decide how they would like to contribute to the classroom exhibit by either creating art, writing a story, presenting an interesting resource or sharing a personal story about the topic. It’s a great way for students to work collaboratively and to take charge of their learning!
  • Bring in volunteer speakers from your community. You’ll be amazed at how valuable this interaction can be for everyone. Have your students write up questions they would like to ask and what they would like to learn. It’s a great way to explore different career paths, history and culture.
  • Celebrate the cultures of your classroom. This can be done every day! Examine art, music, dance, food, and traditions of your student’s ancestors. It can be a great way to encourage your students to learn more about their own heritage and roots.
  • Get your students writing letters to Pen Pals around the world. I’m a traditionalist and still believe in the value of sending a hand written letter via snail mail. What young person doesn’t enjoy opening up a letter, especially if it is decorated with drawings, stickers or exotic stamps? Encourage your students to include pictures and art work to enhance their letters to their friends abroad.
  • Connect with a classroom in another country. Skype in the Classroom is an amazing resource. Plan monthly Skype sessions on various topics that match the monthly curriculum.   There are some schools participating in monthly book clubs with their international partner schools.
  • Plan a service learning project. There are a zillion causes and organizations to support. Ask your students what they are interested in supporting. Here are some great tips for planning a successful service learning project from the National Dropout Prevention Network. Research shows that hands on learning can be one of the most effective ways to impact student success.

Ideas, comments or resources to share?  Contact World Wonder today!

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Guest Blog – Is Education for All a Reality?

Picture of author.

Author Allen Kirungi.

A Parent’s Dream

Every parent, regardless of their economic status looks forward to having their child/children get a quality education, acquire knowledge and skills and eventually mature into a responsible productive fulfilled citizen.  This dream however remains in far reach for most African children. Yet, the value of education for children and national development remains undebatable.  According to the Convention on Rights of Children, article 28 protects the general right of all children to an education and article 29 emphasizes its wider quality goals related to content and methodology.  The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number two calls for all nations globally to make Universal Primary Education(UPE) accessible for all children of school going age.  These are all good policies in support of child education, but unfortunately they are not implemented.  Developing countries continue to struggle with enrollments and retention of children in schools.

Globally over the last 100 years there has been a remarkable increase in school enrollments. It is exciting to note that some of these improvements have been in developing countries. Whereas school enrollments continue to rise, successful completion of school has been tarnished by high numbers of school dropouts.

The Right to Education

Education is a human right for all children, and those who are not in school are being denied that right. Furthermore, failure to access and complete a basic cycle of quality inclusive primary education, seriously limits future opportunities for children. This impacts an individual’s ability to reach full potential and consequently negatively impacts the quality of the national work force.  A country that is able to keep their young population in school for a longer period of time (up to successful completion) benefits in so many ways; as young adults stay in school they are able to make better health decisions, marry a little later, and have planned families. They are able to raise healthy families and generally contribute to the economic development of their country.

In 2000, the international community promised that all children would attend, and stay in school by 2015.  However, in 2013, there was still 57 million children out of school; one in ten is denied his/her right to education. Half of these 57 million children live in Sub-Sahara Africa. Out-of- school patterns vary across and within regions, and it is therefore critical to analyze contextual reasons for non-enrollment and early school dropout. One of the first steps in reaching out-of-school children is to identify who they are and where they live.  The challenges are great. UNESCO estimates that there are globally some 215 million child laborers and more than 150 million children with a disability, while 39,000 girls below the age of 18 are married off every day

According to the South Africa Department of Education, almost half of the pupils who should have written matriculation exam (Grade 12) in 2013 had dropped out of the system at the end of Grade 10. The situation is not any different in the rest of the African countries.  In East Africa for example, Uganda is said to have one of the highest school dropout rates in the region, majority of which are girls.  In 2012 a report by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) showed that Uganda has the highest school dropout rate for females in East Africa. The rate shoots up to claim roughly half the class before they finish primary school.  School dropout rates are higher for girls compared to boys in Africa.  Interestingly, enrollments are higher but retention remains a big problem.  When girls dropout of school at around the age of 10-15 they are unlikely to return back to school as they end up being married off, taken to town ships to work as house helpers, and consequently they lose the opportunity to return to school.

Why the High School Drop Out Rate?

There are various reasons as to why children drop out of school.  Children often begin school with enthusiasm and excitement towards learning and engaging with others. Unfortunately, as they progress in school and grow, they may do things that force them out of school (such as indiscipline, consequences of poor performance) or the environment outside the school (such as sickness, family challenges, lack of resources to pay for school fees, etc.).

According to Jordan et al., 1994Watt & Roessingh, 1994).  A framework was developed by two groups of authors to explain reasons why students drop out such that they can be pushed, pulled, or fall out of school (These accounts can be integrated to explain the overall dropout experience). The key difference between push, pull, and falling out factors has to do with agency.  With push factors, the school is the agent whereby a student is removed from school as a result of a consequence of the school environment.  With pull factors, the student is the agent, such that attractions or distractions lure them out of school. Finally, with falling out factors, neither the student nor school is the agent.  Instead, circumstances exist that neither the school nor the student can remediate, and as a result, the connection students have with school gradually diminishes.

There are also certain practices in Africa that actively encourage children to drop out of school. Some parents still view their daughters as a source of wealth. Instead of encouraging them to stay in school, they push them into marriages in exchange for a few cows, goats, and cash at times.  This is heart breaking, but still a reality in most African communities. You may be tempted to blame the parents, but just before you do, it is important to remember that some of them do not actually know anything different. They have had it the same way, so the cycle of this negative practice easily gets passed on from generation to generation as if some form of “inheritance!”

Governments across Africa need to put in place policies and regulations that keep children in school longer than it is currently. There is a critical need to protect children from some pull factors, by regulating some activities or seemingly attractive events that sometimes take learners out of school. An example is the new and fast mushrooming sports betting games in Africa. In Uganda for example, it is estimated that there are more than 200 Sport Betting Centers registered and many more not registered, yet operating in the capital city of Kampala.  Although the regulations stipulate that these centers should not be located close to schools and should not permit children below 18 years of age, this law is often ignored.  When parents send their children to school, the children choose to take their school fees to sports betting where they hope to win more money.  But as it is with betting, the children end up losing out and many don’t return to school and sometimes home.

What Can Be Done to Retain Children in School?

Deliberately invest in good quality education. Today, more than ever, Africa has an opportunity as well as a challenge to invest in her young population. Human resource is one of the greatest assets Africa has. However, before any population can be considered valuable, it must be equipped with skills and knowledge. Africa has to focus on the quality of the young people. Education is a sure way in which governments can have the population exposed and as such they are able to make wiser decisions regarding health, family planning, and national development.  Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent on earth with an estimated population in 2013 of 1.033 billion people.  As of 2015, the population estimates are around 1.166 billion.  Unfortunately, this growing population is not represented by good leadership and governance in most African countries.  There are challenges related to democracy building and mentoring a new breed of leaders.  African leaders need to fight corruption and deliberately concentrate on building a resourceful population with a major focus on girls and other marginalized groups of people. A sure way is to invest in school infrastructure, well trained teachers and make the school environment more attractive for children as well as implementation of policies that relate to education. Overall, leaders in Africa need to take responsibility for equipping their population and ensuring that they are turned into a “critical productive mass.”

Focus on adult and parent education. Community leaders still have a challenge of guiding parents that have not received formal education.  Adult education is critical for parents as they have the responsibility of raising children in the 21st century.  If these parents are not given appropriate education, they will continue some practices such as preference of boy education as opposed to girls and female genital mutilation, all of which contribute to poor school retention numbers.  These can be unlearned with proper adult education.  Access to education and learning for adults is a fundamental aspect of the right to education and facilitates the exercise of the right to participate in political, economic, cultural, artistic and scientific life.  The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning looks at adult education as “a powerful concept for fostering ecologically sustainable development, for promoting democracy, justice, gender equity, and scientific, social and economic development, and for building a world in which violent conflict is replaced by dialogue and a culture of peace based on justice. Adult learning can shape identity and give meaning to life.”

Adult learning and education as components of lifelong learning are gaining increased relevance in view of the growing pressure to face new, complex and rapidly changing issues and challenges, such as poverty, exclusion, migration, environmental degradation and climate change and a shortage of food and natural resources, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and the advent of new technologies that now permeate all fields of life.

Career guidance and planning. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2002) explains that career counselling of youth consists of four elements: (a) helping individuals to gain greater self-awareness in areas such as interests, values, abilities, and personality style, (b) connecting individuals to resources so that they can become more knowledgeable about jobs and occupations, (c) engaging individuals in the decision-making process in order that they can choose a career path that is well suited to their own interests, values, abilities and personality style, and (d) assisting individuals to be active managers of their career paths (including managing career transitions and balancing various life roles) as well as becoming lifelong learners in the sense of professional development over the lifespan. This international definition of career guidance creates a sense of ownership and helps learners to build meaningful careers as well as become responsible and engaged citizens at the local and national levels. This component of education has long been missing in the bulk of African countries, and where it is done, it is either poorly planned or inadequate.

Invest in Early Childhood Education (ECD). The early childhood years are very important in a person’s life for they form the foundation for later learning and the opportunity to develop into a well-adjusted, successful and happy adult.  It is however unfortunate that many children are being deprived from early years’ education and the opportunity to develop their potential to the full.

In Africa, ECD is still a growing concept.  In fact, in Uganda most of the people who go to train as ECD teachers are those that had dropped out of school for different reasons. This trend is gradually changing with the government putting in place an ECD policy and ensuring that there are institutions to train ECD teachers.

The purpose of early childhood education is to foster competence in young children, though not only competence in intellectual areas, but in the child as a whole person. Our purpose is to help the child to learn to live with others, to master and safely express one’s feelings, and to love life and welcome new experiences. The purpose of education, then is to foster competence in dealing with life. (Hendrik 1994:2)

What next for school dropouts?

Whereas dropping out of school is not desirable, the reality is that children continue to drop out of school and in some cases it is on the rise. There is need for planned interventions in the lives of the learners that will still drop out of school due to factors beyond their control. The children that are unable to continue with school either due to push, pull or falling out factors cannot be left on their own. They need to be recognized as people with talents and abilities and developed for the future. Governments, especially in Africa, need to rethink ways in which to keep the ever increasing number of school dropouts productively engaged. Governments need to ask why and where these children are dropping out, and what can be done to reduce barriers to education and how best to support students to stay in school.  Well designed and intentioned programs that target school dropouts need to be put in place.

I have a dream!

Our guest author is passionate about life lived to the fullness. In the process of writing this article she dreamed! She thought of a creative way in which school dropouts can be productively engaged. The model is called a “HOPE HAVEN.”  This model entails setting up centers where dropout children below the age of 18 can go daily to be fully trained and equipped with skills and knowledge.  At the entry point, the learners will be given counselling, guidance and psychosocial support by well trained counselors and psychologists.  The reason for this is that children in this category go through traumatic experiences as a result of attempting to go to school and not being successful at it. Also, research has shown that most of these children are orphaned at an early age due to HIV/AIDS, having children at a young age, or living in a home with no parents or single parent homes.  In any case this category of children is usually from very impoverished families. These centers will therefore, target the poorest of the poor.

The second and equally important stage at this center will be to equip children with skills and knowledge. The children will

About the Author:

Allen is a Ugandan development worker with a specific focus on education, children and gender issues.  Married and mother of two, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Management.

I had the privilege of meeting Allen and her sister in 2000 while Allen was here in San Jose, CA benefiting from the Rotary Club Adult Gift of Life program.  Through the power of social media and email we have remained in touch and enjoy sharing frequent updates from abroad.  I anticipate someday we’ll have the occasion to reunite in person!

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Why Global Education Matters, Even for 1st Graders

 

Knowledge is power

“Knowledge is Power” school poster.

It has been over a month since I attended the Global Education Forum in Philadelphia where I shared my ideas about providing global competence education in our K-5 public schools.  I was in heaven! I was immersed in an environment of leading experts working to bring more global education and awareness to our K-12 schools.  The attendees represented NGOs, educators, parents, administrators, and other individuals interested in creating more global learning opportunities for our youngest citizens.  With the recent events in Paris, I am reminded once again, how critical it is for our communities to embrace global learning and to prepare our youngest citizens to be active global leaders, change makers, and innovators.

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Veronica Boix Mansilla is the following – “Virtually every major issue people face – from climate change to national security to public health – has a global dimension.  Information technologies ensure that news from every country reverberates around the world in minutes.  With over two million migrants worldwide, migration and immigration are creating magnificently more diverse neighborhoods, communities, and nations.  More than ever, people, cultures, and nations are interdependent, requiring the preparation of students capable and disposed to solve problems on a global scale and participate effectively in a global economic and civic environment.  No longer a luxury for a few, global competence is a requirement for all.”  According to the Asia Society Center for Global Education, there are five reasons why global competence matters.  The top five reasons include:

  1. Global competence is the toolkit a productive, involved citizenry uses to meet the problems and opportunities of the world.

In the curriculum, global competence challenges students to investigate the world, consider a variety of perspectives, communicate ideas, and take meaningful action. A globally focused curriculum engages students in their own learning and motivates them to strive for knowledge and understanding. And a curious, inspired student strives to learn more in school and beyond.

 

2. A new generation of students requires different skills from the generations that came before.

The world is changing fast. Boundaries—literal as well as figurative— are shifting and even disappearing altogether. The culture that once lived halfway around the world now lives just down the block. The ability to thrive in this new and rapidly changing environment is grounded in a globally focused curriculum.

 

3. More than ever before, individual actions reach around the globe.

Environmental concerns, economic shifts, global poverty, population growth, human rights, and political conflict can seem intractable and overwhelming, yet they absolutely require thoughtful action. In a globally focused curriculum, students learn that the world needs them to act, and that they can make a difference.

 

4. Global competence integrates knowledge of the world and the skill of application with the disposition to think and behave productively.

Global competence is not restricted to knowing about other cultures and other perspectives. In addition to knowledge of the world, a globally competent citizen exhibits habits like critical thinking, rational optimism, innovation, empathy, and awareness of the influences of culture on individual behavior and world events.

 

5. Success in career and life will depend on global competence, because career and life will play out on the global stage.

Already, government, business, and cultural institutions are called to solve the world’s problems cooperatively. Engaging in these challenges requires high-order knowledge and thinking skill, as well as shared language and cultural understanding. In a globally focused curriculum, students prepare to approach problems from multiple perspectives and to thrive in a global future.

These are the reasons why I am on a personal mission to bring more global learning to our local K-5 public schools.  In a time where teachers are feeling more and more pressure to roll out new standards and assessments and public schools in general are resourced stressed, I see no other solution but to leverage the talents of community organizations, volunteers, and private funding, as a vehicle for bringing more global education to our local public schools.  This is why at my daughter’s school I am facilitating a monthly international club for all 1st graders in the after school program.  The original concept came from one of my most globally minded friends, Meredith Vostrejs, who is also a returned Peace Corps volunteer and a specialist in global health issues.  What I love most, is watching how excited my students get when learning about the world.  We spend our time learning about things like, geography, the environment, how other kids live around the world, foreign languages, global cultures and celebrations, and how to make a difference.  Our time together has been about exposing these young citizens to the complexity, diversity, and beauty of the global community and introducing them to global issues and asking them to problem solve, think creatively, and compassionately.  Their curiosity and excitement fuels my hope and affirms my belief that Global Education Matters, Even for 1st Graders.

A few ways for volunteers to inject “global” learning in their local schools:

  • Start an international club at your school
  • Ask your school PTA or PTO about sponsoring an international day or cultural event
  • Invite a speaker from a local international non-profit to present at a school assembly
  • Support a service-learning project in your school, focused on a global cause
  • Sign up your classroom with virtual pen pals from another country
  • Conduct an art project in your child’s classroom focused on another country or culture
  • Invite a community member to read stories in their native language
  • Share photos and stories from an international journey you recently took

And don’t forget to check out World Wonder on Facebook for more ideas and inspiration.

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Make it a Global Year ~ Back-to-School Resources for Igniting Global Citizenship in Your Schools and Community!

Thumbs up!Boy holding shell at the beach.SucculentsShellsAt the marketDia de los Muertos

It’s a wrap!  Summer has passed and back to school is here!  I hope many of you had a summer filled with new adventures and inspiration!  Our biggest adventure was a road trip from the SF Bay Area to the Northern Baja region of Mexico.  We spent five days just 45 minutes south of San Diego in a village called La Misión.

La Misión is primarily known for having one of the best surf breaks in northern Baja.  It is a village of approx. 1,000 inhabitants and several expatriate communities filled with Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Australians.  We learned that there are several young families living in this region enjoying a relatively low cost of living, modern amenities, and access to some of the best beaches and outdoor activities in the northern Baja.  We quickly fell in love with this area for the friendliness of the locals, the beauty of the terrain, access to interesting rural and urban settings, like Ensenada, delicious food, a vibrant culture, and perfect climate!  It reinvigorated our longing to see the world, to look beyond our immediate horizon, and to experience a new community, a new way of life and all the variety and diversity that comes with it!  I hope you had a chance to get reinvigorated this summer whether it was through travel, visiting a new museum, reading a good book, watching a movie, or visiting a restaurant that sparked your senses and opened your mind to a new place, people, or culture.

Here are some new resources to ignite global citizenship in your community!  Many of them are featured on Facebook.  So don’t forget to “like” World Wonder and get weekly tips and resources.

Enjoy!

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Summer with a Global Twist!

The message Dream Big overlayed on a map.

Who’s ready for summer break? I am! Even though I will be working through most of the summer, I can’t wait for a few months of no homework, less frantic mornings, and not having to race to school to beat the 8:20 am bell. It has been a wonderful school year with a lot of inspiration, but it’s time to slow down a bit and enjoy some different kind of learning. Below are a few ideas to add a global twist to your summer. And don’t forget to connect with World Wonder on Facebook, where you will find weekly updates, tips, and inspiration. Enjoy!

Summer with a global twist. Start here…

  • Get outside!National Geographic Kids is a wonderful resource for learning about the great outdoors. You can find their Get Outside Guidefilled with “fascinating facts and cool ideas for adventures in forests and fields, on beaches and playgrounds, in city parks, and even in your own backyard.”  Go on a stay-cation and explore a nearby national park or town that you have always wanted to visit. Have your kids help you plan your trip, map it out, provide your kids with cameras to record your adventure, keep a journal.
  • Tell your Story! – Introduce your child to children’s books in different languages or books about children around the world. How would your child write their story? How would your child share the books they love with other kids around the world? I recently discovered this online collection of Time for Kids articles that tell the story of young people around the world. What’s most fun about this resource is, for every country, they feature a Day in the Life of a local child. How would your child describe a day in their life? Have them create a book and think about sharing their story with a pen pal.
  • Run, Kick, Score! – Wouldn’t it be fun to explore the world through sports? What do local sports tell you about a culture? Are girls participating in sports in other countries, why? Why not? What sport would you like to try? You might even check out your local resources, for example, here in the Bay Area there is a thriving cricket league because of the large population of athletes from India. Wouldn’t it be fun to catch a local cricket match! I searched for a comprehensive book about sports around the work that might interest children, and I have yet to find anything. But here is a really fun list of games played around the world.
  • Create! – Does your child enjoy painting, drawing, using mixed media, crafts, fashion?  Art is one of the more accessible means for learning about a country, culture and people. Art can provide historical context, cultural lessons, connection and emotion. The Met has an interesting site that shows numerous traveling exhibits featuring art from around the world.
  • Dance Party! – You can learn a lot about a country and culture through their local music. Does your child enjoy making music, singing, dancing, acting, using instruments? I have always loved the assortment of global music offered by Putumayo. Share this musical magic and watch imaginations soar!
  • Bon Appetite! – Does your child enjoy cooking? How about exploring recipes from around the world, including the different ingredients, spices, and traditions around food. Food is another subject that can teach children a lot about a culture and unique traditions such as the local delicacies and celebrations around food. This online resource offers some really fun recipes from around the world.
  • Innovate! – For those children that love to create, experiment, invent, or tinker, there are many ways that these interests and skills can be applied in a global context. How are countries around the world impacted by innovation and access to technology? Why do some places have more access to today’s innovations over others?  How are technologies like solar energy, green construction, and new medical technologies impacting societies around the world? There is a wide array of resources available including learning resources from the national maker space movement, the Exploratorium, the Cal Academy of Sciences and the Tech Museum.   Challenge your children to explore the world through science and technology and you’ll be amazed by what they discover and create.
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World Wonder is now LIVE on Facebook!

Mural of the world.

Being a working mom I find it nearly impossible to find the time to write well researched, interesting and polished blogs, so I’ve decided to branch out and create a Facebook page for World Wonder.  This way I can share resources and inspiration in an instant and also encourage others to share and exchange ideas.  Inspiration is everywhere!  Enjoy the journey! Find us here: http://www.facebook.com/worldwonder.org

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Connecting Classrooms Around the World

Global map

(Classrooms connected. Photo courtesy of Skype.)

I am inspired every day!  But most recently I was inspired by a video featuring a high school classroom using technology to connect with classrooms around the world.  Check out this video “The World Is As Big Or As Small As You Make It,” it is definitely worth watching!

What I love about this is how technology has the power to connect young people around the world and invites conversations that matter.  It provides a safe place for young people to talk with their peers about their interests, their concerns, and their dreams for themselves and the world.  It is a reminder that young people around the world share a common language no matter where they are located and what language they speak.  The opportunity to connect with young people around the world can also offer teens in particular a different trajectory and encourages them to look beyond their immediate neighborhood and to explore the world beyond their community. It teaches compassion, empathy and a broader perspective.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if this was part of every classroom in America?  The exchanges don’t necessarily need to be international in scope.  I can imagine classroom exchanges between classrooms in rural America and urban America.  These are the innovative practices that we as parents, volunteers, community members and educators can encourage in our local schools.  It’s a creative way to use technology as a tool for opening young minds, encouraging global awareness and community engagement.  If you are interested in connecting your child’s classroom check out these resources.

Resources for Virtual Classroom Exchange:

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