Scott Tuffiash, Language Arts
I have been involved with many global collaborative projects while teaching journalism, advising the avonews, and instructing all levels of 11th grade English at Avonworth High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I'm passionate about creating a more thoughtful, deliberate, empathetic, and peaceful world one person at a time.
Mexico City, Mexico
Since 2007, teaching has been my passion. I began as a ESL educator. Then, in 2011, I started teaching Music Appreciation in primary school and in 2013, Philosophy for Kids. As a devoted believer of the Teaching for Understanding methodology, I constantly look for different ways in which we can understand the world. That's also why I find it a responsibility to contribute to other educators through my collaboration to the website tecducacion.com. It's about technology tools in education. One of its contributors told me about PenPal Schools. I am always looking for the human touch and this program gives that opportunity to the kids. Like the song says, "...it's a small world after all..."
Thanks to technology global education is possible to the masses. Typically, American students are globally ignorant. To solve problems the world is and will be facing will require us to work with people of other cultures. From an early age, students need to be exposed to other perspectives and learn to appreciate those perspectives. I personally was not exposed to other cultures until college when I was able to travel abroad. I met amazing people who thought differently than me. I want to help my students have similar experiences at a much younger age. PenPal Schools helps me do that.
Monet Hardison, English
North Carolina, USA
I am passionate about global education because it aligns with my personal teaching philosophy: Teach kids first, then content. I believe that in order to truly be effective educators, we must first know our kids, who they are, where they are from, and what their experiences are. I currently teach in a very rural area in North Carolina. However, many of my students have parents who are immigrants from various Latin American countries. In my English lessons, it is important that I not only include literature that reflects American society, but that I am also purposeful in choosing texts that are representative of other cultures, so that my students, no matter their background, can understand each other. I also include diverse texts because I want my students who are from other parts of the world to still embrace their culture and history. I feel if we all strive to understand each other and embrace what makes us "unique," the world will become a more peaceful and respectful place. I don't think that I, alone, can change the world, but I do believe that through global education, my students can!
Emily Greenwell, English
When students are learning and communicating with other students across the world, boundaries of preconceived ideas start to eliminate. When students learn about places outside of their 20 mile radius it can seem irrelevant to them because it is not tangible. But, when a real connection is made to someone across the state, country, or world while completing lessons together, it develops a more nuanced understanding that differences can be positive. Cultivating appreciation and connection. Traveling and teaching abroad really brought me out of my comfort zone, but it helped me see beyond one side to a story and that lesson was extremely valuable. As the world continues to become more connected through technology, it is imperative that our students and future leaders of this country grow up learning skills on how to communicate effectively with
people who might have a different perspective or opinion. They need to know how to respectfully accept conversations that charter different ideas and know that it is ok! That's what makes us unique. We get to have different opinions and there is something truly humbling when we can learn from and converse with others.
Rhoda Mutende, English and Literature
I am passionate about education and believe that it will break down all barriers. Here in Kenya, getting access to internet has proven to be very difficult, especially for the pupils learning in village schools who have no connection to the outside world. To ensure that they get to experience the joy and enlightenment of communicating with international friends (pen pals) and get to know about their culture, I bring these pupils to my home so that they can use the internet there, instead of paying exorbitant prices at public cyber cafés.
Ian Bates, Grade 5
Every year our world becomes increasingly smaller and more interconnected. Through the use of technology we can teach common values and bridge the gaps that divide us. It's important for students to be exposed to other cultures to learn from each other's perspectives and recognize how similar we all are.
Luke Strawser, World Geography
Just as I love seeing students' fascination when they encounter new traditions and customs of different cultures, I love seeing students experience the fascination that comes from realizing that kids from other cultures and other parts of the world really aren't so different from them. Global education combats injustice, intolerance, indifference, and 'othering' by fostering empathy and understanding while helping students to become culturally competent problem-solvers.
Kate Ippensen, English Language Arts
I am so excited about global education because it gives my kids a view of the world outside of their small town. For my kids, their world is largely consumed with gangs and violence. Many have never been outside of their county, much less Mississippi. This gives them perspective and helps them to dream of being more than their town's expectations.
Greg Zugrave, World Geography and History
Global learning is at the crux of education. All of my students will be affected by changes taking place in far flung places and come into contact with people from different places, cultures and lifestyles. I feel it is my duty to educate them about the world and its happenings.
Alison Anderson, Library and Technology
Right now, our world is full of too much turmoil and cultural misunderstandings but our students have the potential to change that. I firmly believe that our world can only improve through relationships - and connecting with Pen Pals to learn about and get to know others is the perfect way to build relationships, learn about the world and then go out and make it a better place.
Jenni Conrady, English Language Arts
21st century students today must be equipped with the right skills to become 21st century leaders. Global education tears down the veil on culture, distance, financial status, and creates students aware of the world around them. Teaching students to think beyond the box and into the horizon challenges them to make a difference, while teaching real world learning skills.
In our globally connected world, I feel that an understanding of other cultures is one of the most important lessons that we can share with students. I have been teaching Spanish to high school students for 30 years and I try to infuse culture into my classroom as much as possible.
Utilizing PenPal Schools to connect my students with other schools in the United States has transformed my classroom. Making current events interesting is hard to achieve as an educator. Giving my students an opportunity to share their voice and ideas with a global community empowers my students to form their own viewpoint on real-world global issues.
I was born and raised in Ecuador. I have seen first hand the struggle of misery and poverty and how education is the only pathway to cut the cycles of oppression. I currently serve as a second year corp member with Teach for America in Miami, and actively volunteer with two organizations Projects for Haiti, which provides capacity building for educators in Haiti. I also work with Sports in Motion, which changes low income communities by incorporating sports and creating leaders in Guatemala. I travel constantly to my home country of Ecuador where I do volunteer work and I am blessed to call the U.S.A. my home as well.
I am passionate about global education because our current students (and even former students!) are now living in a very global, competitive world. With the advancement of technology in our society, students of all ages are now more aware of academic and social issues that are happening around the world and they need to as soon as they can begin to learn and understand that their own needs and issues are a part of the world too. In addition, if students are doing programs such as Pen Pal Schools, then this allows them to participate as a world citizen and this can lead to more leaders in the future that can help solve many of our global problems and issues.
As educators, we need to help our students thrive in a world that is ever more connected. Therefore we must help them develop the tools to be citizens of the world - that is, inter-culturally competent, capable to understand the roots of global issues, open minded, and interested in listening to different perspectives. As the issues we will face will be ever more globalized (environmental sustainability, water, mass migration, global financial crisis, eradicating poverty and so on), the sooner we understand we are all in the same boat the better: we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately (B. Franklin). I have been particularly fortunate as a teacher in that I have been able to teach in three different continents - in Milano (Italy), Manila (the Philippines) and Bethesda (MD, USA). I would like my students to experience those connections and learning opportunities even without (or before) moving to different countries.
Marius Du Plessis, Evangelist
Cape Town, South Africa
Education is the cornerstone of developing not only individual countries, but the world in general, in a meaningful and sustainable way. Living in a developing country, I have been exposed to the great shortcomings that underprivileged children suffer due to a lack of education. I believe that the best way to fast-track the lives of these children and their communities is to expose them to education that is influenced by the international arena, meets the highest quality standards, and engages them in thought-provoking dialogue. In the digital era, we have the opportunity to leap-frog these children's development by reinventing they way they are educated. This will allow them to enter the world on a level playing field, with the right set of skills and knowledge to function in the 21st century.