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Global Learning for Kids

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 nickpc4

Wednesday morning at 8:00am I found myself staring not into the dead eyes of college seniors as usual but rather looking down at the eager, bouncing faces of Jefferson Elementary School students. Its about time I made the announcement; I’m transferring.

Ok, maybe not. But if I was transferring to Jefferson, I would still find the same admiration for international studies that Austin College works so hard to instill in every single graduate – and perhaps a little more enthusiasm from students at eight in the morning. A brand new global education program, “Here and There”, is officially underway at Jefferson, where teachers are working hard to bring the world into Sherman classrooms. Conveniently, Austin College is located right across the street, and sends students around the world every semester. Sounds like a match made in Heaven! I’m certainly excited about this new opportunity to volunteer in the community, interact with students who haven’t lost their lust for life, and talk about all my unique experiences in China (except for that time when I ate dog).

While I’ll be focusing my discussion on China and Taiwan, Jefferson is looking for students who have studied (or plan to study) all across the globe. Eventually the goal is to bring in AC volunteers who can share stories from every continent. Students can participate in a variety of ways, either before leaving for abroad, while abroad, or after their return. Jefferson teachers would love AC volunteers to be pen pals with the school, sending traditional letters or post cards from out of country. Weekly email blurbs with a couple pictures are another option. Ideally, students who are currently traveling will be able to Skype with Jefferson and their video chats will be broadcast to the whole student body. For those students who have not yet left or have recently returned from a semester abroad there are several additional options for interacting with the students in an educational and entertaining manner. This Wednesday, I was on the morning news program at Jefferson, briefly explaining the basics of Chinese language and culture. Teachers are also encouraging AC students to come into the classroom with props to talk to the kids about how they are preparing for their travels or start a dialogue about cross-cultural experiences. Finally, there is talk of an international culture fair, but that is off on the horizon.

When I met with the Jefferson representative for “Here and There”, I was impressed by the thought and effort that went into this initiative. The school is striving to introduce diversity into lives of students who may not have ever left Sherman It is impossible for these students to know anything different from their immediate circumstances if we don’t share our experiences, photos, and excitement about what the world has to offer. This is not only a chance to educate, but inspire. Before this starts sounding too much like a  Great Day of Service pep talk, I’ll leave you with this: if you were gifted the opportunity to study abroad while at Austin College, either for a semester or Janterm, I challenge you to give a child just a peek beyond Sherman city limits. You will see more smiles in that moment than you knew existed in this small town.

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Global Learning for Kids