School districts need to pay more attention to global attention and make it more accessible to students.
This was a key argument made by the presenter of Friday afternoon’s roundtable “Equity in Global Educational Programing: Increasing Access for all Students” at the AASA national conference in San Diego.
The Wareham Public School District in Massachusetts promotes global education by offering students the short-term opportunity to study abroad. Student trips in the past have included China, Italy and Australia, and Wareham students are hosted by local families affiliated with the district’s program.
“It's an eye opener. And to the students, experiencing another culture firsthand like this can be life changing,” said Jane Collins-Fondulis, director of Beyond School Time/PASS principal in Wareham.
Funding for the trips is mostly provided by donations from partnering organizations or grants, requiring the students to pay little and thus making the experience more accessible to students. The school district does “everything in their power to give students this opportunity,” Collins-Fondulis said.
The foreign travel inspires students to take action on global issues, by participating more often in volunteer activities. Students collected backpacks and filled them with warm meals to send to those in other countries, while other students conducted canned food drives.
“Hunger and homelessness are problems that occur worldwide,” Collins-Fondulis said. “The sooner they realize that the sooner they can take action and do something about it.”
She also shared strategies to create effective global schools, which included a list of programs to strengthen global education. Programs ranged from creating overseas pen pals, in which students continuously write to other students to adding more foreign language classes.
The presenter provided several informational resources providing further guidance on the creation of global schools. These include a link to a video created by students of Wareham Public Schools District that describes the experiences of the students during their short-term trips overseas.
“Ultimately, it's our job to help other districts increase global education in their schools. It may be a full-time commitment, but I believe it’s more than worth the effort,” Collins-Fondulis stated.
(Alexa Vazquez is a sophomore at Bonita Vista High and an intern for AASA’s Conference Daily Online)