Engaging Future Global Citizens: Young Cultural Ambassador Program 2017

What I really was excited about was bringing
two groups of very diverse kids together. Having our students learn about the Chinese
culture, learn about what education’s like in another country, and by the same token,
have those students from China come and see what it’s like in America, and I think that’s
real important to see. We wanted this to be an exchange and exchange
requires our American students learning from the Chinese students and the Chinese students
learning from the American students. Most of the students want to help us and I
think they’re very friendly and helpful. It’s really fun. We get to have somebody from another place
visiting our school. There are a lot of similarities and there
are also differences between students from different countries so if you’re not experienced,
you will not know, you will never know. We both like the same things, like we both
have homework, like math books, but the different thing is that we don’t speak the same languages
sometimes. It’s been a priceless experience for us. We hear different things about our different
cultures but what we learn is that we are the same. We care deeply about our children that we
want them involved in meaningful work, that we want them to know one another, to be kind
to one another. I think that they both hear stories about
each other but then when you get to actually really live it and be a part of it, it becomes
real-world for them. I think the number one benefit is just getting
to connect with other human beings from the other side of the planet and it’s pretty exciting
to see our kids not only be so welcoming and warm to the students, but asking them questions
and building some empathy so I think that personal connection that they build is the
best thing that I see. When I saw them coming out for lunch they
were talking to each other, trying to communicate in some way, and I think that really breaks
down barriers and it goes beyond just language. It’s like they want to connect. Folks are learning from each other and students
are partnering up with each other. When you see a young person who’s holding
hands with another young person from a place across the planet but they’re speaking as
if they’ve known each other for a lifetime. They’re laughing alongside our students, they’re
learning alongside our students, they’re doing activities alongside of it, and I see them
bonding as well. My students felt today like they’ve made lasting
friendships, kids that they will know for the rest of their lives and now my kids are
super excited about continuing this friendship. They gave us their card with a phone number
and stuff so we can still keep in contact even though they’re in China and stuff. I have many friends in this school and I think
they are same as my Chinese friends. They were saying that they had a lot of fun,
that they really enjoyed the opportunity to have guests come from another country, and
to learn from them. I think it gives our kids especially some
global awareness that doesn’t always exist in some communities where our students maybe
haven’t had as many opportunities to travel and right now, many of them are really excited
about the idea of possibly traveling to China in the future as they get a little bit older,
so that’s pretty great. When learning can really embody the kind of
planet that we want to see, and when young people can show us a model for how we should
engage with each other, it gives us not just hope, but it gives us a belief that education
is the single most powerful tool through which we can reimagine what the world looks like,
where we can have a global village and global partnerships and connected learning in a way
that showcases the best that we all have to offer.

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