More Than Just a Sandwich

I have been leading a short global citizenship programme for our Year 11 students post-examinations.  We have been looking into the importance of global citizenship education, what it is, and how we can all become better global citizens.  In one of the first sessions I used my analogy of a sandwich and the endless variety of ingredients (see earlier post) needed to make a satisfying sandwich, and the representation through the eyes of a geographer placing two pieces of bread at exactly the opposite sides of the Earth at the same time.

wangari maathai

We also looked at Wangari Maathai´s simple but powerful story of the hummingbird, you can watch it here.  Still a real favourite of mine.

I challenged the students to form their own analogies of global citizenship after our early discussions and to submit their ideas in between sessions via a form.  I thought I would share just a few…

How can you best explain global citizenship or represent it (be as creative as you like – a sandwich, a hummingbird…)?

Clockwork – global citizenship is a mindset. It is like clockwork. When you work with other global citizens it creates a system or rather a society that allows humanity to coexist with the problems you are passionate about. Combining all aspects that create an effective global citizen you become a crucial part of that clockwork that allows for society to keep moving.

selective focus photography of pasta with tomato and basil

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Spaghetti – I would represent global citizenship as a spaghetti plate where all the cultures, ambitions and personalities intertwine and contribute to the whole, like the individual spaghetti pieces.

Sea– it has different species of different colours, that together, form the sea, and they come together to form something beautiful.

Ship – global citizenship can be represented as a ship, commanded and sailed by all the nations in harmony with each country and citizens taking part in sailing the ship.

drone footage of a beach

Photo by Herman. io on Pexels.com

Beach – each grain is a quality, as someone develops, their persona grows and becomes stronger. Each wave, metaphorical for opportunities, brings new grains upon to the beach, (qualities) shaping the strengths and weaknesses of one’s personality. However, sometimes challenges arise, but a good global citizen will learn from such threats or conflict and learn new attributes.

Circle of hands – I would represent it as the different cultures and minds around the world folded hands in a huge circle while a white dove passes by.

Ants – I chose ants because they are a small dot on the huge planet but by working together they can get things done fast and can really make a change.

silhouette photo of person holding door knob

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

Bee – pollinating the flowers, and therefore helping the wider world.

Door – global citizenship is awareness which comes after you have opened your mind to new experiences and to being selfless or generous. When you open a door, there is effort behind this action however it is not as difficult as it may seem, and when the door is opened, you can be conscious of the real world.

Nyumbani

This year we are living a very different reality.

Kenya has been in partial lock down since March and everyone has had to adapt to a new way of living, just like in Spain. Schools are closed but the children are still being taught. The curriculum is available on a TV channel and there are also lessons on the radio. Not everyone in Kenya has access to the internet but some teachers are sending in materials which can be downloaded. This is really useful especially for the Nyumbani children who can enjoy benefiting from extra input. All the subjects are covered, maths, science, English, Kiswahili, social studies, etc. so not too different to Spain!

The children in Nyumbani Home in Karen are all well and safe. They have been extra careful with washing their hands and using sanitisers as well being equipped with masks and gloves. None of the members of the Nyumbani family have suffered from Covid-19 and we are very grateful to all the staff who are working tirelessly to ensure the good health of everyone involved in the programme!  No visitors from the outside have been allowed to come since the start of lock down.

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Each cottage in Nyumbani Home has children of various different ages, just like any normal family. Each cottage has around 14 children so that’s a large family!
As always the children get up early (6 am!) in order to take their medicines and have breakfast before classes start at 8 am. They then tune into the Educational Channel on TV. The children are divided into groups depending on their grade. Classes carry on until 5 p.m with some breaks and time for lunch too. There is a large open space with grass and trees where the children can run about and play safely. No visitors from the outside are allowed to come so there is very little chance of infection.nyumbani2

Last week the cottages were involved in an art project and made some posters which they displayed on their front doors. They are all hoping that the virus will take note and stay away!

 

 

 

Nyumbani, beyond the Home in Karen.

Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the virus and so a huge number of our Lea Toto families are now living below the poverty line, unable even to access basic food. You may remember some of the lovely crafts which are available for sale in the school at events such as the Mighty Merienda. These crafts are made by our Nyumbani Lea Toto families living in the informal settlements around Nairobi. Now they have nobody to buy their goods.

Nyumbani Village is also in lock down and so the grandmothers who were relying on the sale of their baskets for an income are suddenly left with no customers. The needs of all the families grow daily.

nyumbani3We have had some very welcome donations which have slightly eased the immediate need for food, but as this crisis continues, so also the need becomes greater and the families more desperate. A recent report really brought home the reality of the crisis. A woman told of how she put stones in a pot to boil in the hopes that her children would tire and fall asleep before they realised that the anticipation of food would come to nothing. These are truly tragic times.

Nyumbani4As well as Covid-19, Kenya is also dealing with other emergencies.  A swarm of locusts are destroying the crops while floods are rendering many families homeless.
Despite all the devastation, we are working with great determination to ensure that all our people are staying safe, accessing their medicines and basic foods. We are grateful for any donations, particularly in these times when the needs are global.

Thank you! ASANTE SANA!

Izabella Hearn

Amigos de Nyumbani

Nyumbani UK; Sponsor a Child in Kenya

USA LINK

A Global Citizenship Sandwich

Sandwich

I do like a sandwich… fresh bread, a variety of tasty fillings, a scattering of potato crisps and a beautiful summer’s day on cut grass for a picnic.  But sandwiches come in all shapes and sizes, types and flavors, with a wide variety of ingredients and fillings, no one is perfect but all can be equally delicious.

This is  Etienne in New Zealand preparing one half of a very special sandwich.

NZ

This is Angel in Spain preparing the other half of the same sandwich.

Spain

We call this an Earth sandwich where two slices of bread have been carefully placed in the exact opposite places on the exact opposite sides of our Earth. 

EarthSandwich

So if Angel was able to drill directly through the centre of the Earth from Madrid in a straight line he would come out somewhere in New Zealand with Etienne, probably close to the city of Wellington.   There are other places on our Earth, but not too many though, where this unique feat of creating an Earth sandwich can be achieved.  You can see all the green shaded areas on the map below and their opposite locations.  All the black areas would end up in the oceans or seas and therefore not be possible to make the sandwich.

earth_sandwich

Being a geographer, I love this concept of an Earth sandwich and the accurate use of latitudes and longitudes to map opposite locations.  I especially like this idea of an Earth sandwich when I consider myself as being a global citizen.  Myself and the Earth as the pieces of bread and the fillings being all the unique elements that make me the global citizen that I am and want to be.

hobbies

These fillings are endless… and could be shaped by… our nationalities and heritage, the places we have travelled to and seen, the religions and faiths we may follow,  the hobbies and interests that we have, the way we interact and communicate in person and in cyberspace, the languages we speak, and the habits we probably should give up, and the habits we should try and be better at.

 

They could also be shaped by the global goals for sustainable development… or even the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

the-global-goals-grid-colorEven schools (should) help us everyday to become people who care for others and the world around them, that is why I am passionate about global citizenship education.

Traffic lights

For me global citizenship is about having a go, being prepared to leave your comfort zone and trying new experiences.   But this is not enough.  A global citizen is always learning, they focus on the moment and make connections with the people and the environment around them.  They reflect on how they were made to feel and how they made others feel, striving to learn more about themselves and other people.  A global citizen always wants to learn more and is not afraid to set personal targets for self-improvement and growth.

In a school and throughout a learning community there are an abundance of opportunities for global citizenship education.  These opportunities should not be perceived as separate, or an add-on, to a formal education programme, instead they should be fully integrated and encouraged to enhance the overall learning a person is able to achieve inside and outside of school.  The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.  There are many individual parts that make up a sandwich, we may not particularly enjoy the individual parts or choose to eat them by themselves, but together as a whole, lovingly prepared and reflectively put together, these many ingredients and fillings can make a truly amazing and successful (global citizenship) sandwich.

Lockdown Likes

Rediscovering books of old

Sporting classics being retold

Rays of sunshine filter in

A joyous time to empty a bin

Lunching together (Spanish time)

Board games, jig-saws, quizzes, mime

Open windows fresh air breathes in

Online meetings (shorts and flip-flops!) let’s begin

Radio podcasts, #BBC

Nothing like a cuppa tea

The patter of rain, rumbles of thunder

Classic films, tears and wonder

International friends in a virtual space

aprendiendo español at my own pace

The distant sounds of cutting grass

Memories, summer days long in the past

Darting swallows busy at dusk

Old San Pedro makes no fuss

Coming together one community claps

The time, the place, the people, perhaps 

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Paul Crouch, 23.04.2020

Tres Cantos, Madrid

 Lies But Answers.

Contributed by Jade Harcourt-Harrison (2nd place, U14 Amnesty International Journalism Competition, Thailand)

AI

In Syria it is not difficult to find victims of felonious detention and torture. The conflict between the rebels and the Assad regime has had a massive impact on the country’s citizens. Thousands upon thousands of victimised people go missing in Syria: activists, opposition fighters, journalists, civilians and humanitarian workers. The government’s security police are persistently submitting innocent, harmless people to egregious detentions. These people are not political terrorists; they are not actively rebelling against the regime; they are simply helping people in this war torn environment.  However, because of these selfless acts their lives are destroyed. They all endure inhumane, unacceptable, violations of their human rights. The list of atrocities is shocking.

These victims are…

Snatched from society

Dragged into the depths of prisons

Thrown into rotting cells, darkness swallowing them, concealing them

Shackled to the floor, like animals

Tortured, tortured and tortured

Beaten, whipped, sexually harassed

Pushed into water, no air, burning in their chests

Hung from the ceiling by their hands and legs

Finally, they speak … lies… but answers. They will say anything, to stop the unbearable pain.

An example of these horrific crimes against humanity is an anonymous victim who reported to the BBC about her terrible experience in Syria. She was at a peaceful protest when the army started to open fire; which led to a bloody massacre. She bravely stayed to treat the injured protestors and later fled the city. During her escape the regime’s security police captured her.

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“I was subjected to torture, atrocities, insults… They were focusing on the psychological element – insults, humiliation – as a punishment because of what I had done.”

Her ordeal was far from over…

“I was subjected to beatings, whippings, electric shocks. I was detained in a single cell, it was a horrible place under the ground. There were three floors – and I was kept there for one and a half months.”

After these horrendous actions had taken place, she was confirmed innocent in a trial in the country’s terrorism court. She then managed to escape to Lebanon to a refugee camp, continuing to endure hardship and suffering. She applied for a resettlement in England and luckily, this was granted.

Facilitating Debate

Facilitating Debate

However, masses of Syrians are not as fortunate, despite the continued efforts to resolve the conflict and eradicate these crimes against humanity.

We must continue to support humanitarian organizations that are working tirelessly to help these victims of torture. We must not let these abhorrent regimes camouflage their guilt in deceptions and denials.  We must ensure that the plight of these people doesn’t leave the media spotlight.  As the old Chinese proverb states: “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

Jade Harcourt-Harrison

St. Andrews International School – Green Valley, Thailand

 

Make the ordinary come alive

One o'clock...

One o’clock…

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.

 

A tree climbing gang

A tree climbing gang

 

Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.

 

Sticks and rivers

Sticks and rivers

 

And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

By William Martin

The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

 

The solar eclipse live

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On the 20th March 2015, staff and students at my current school gathered on the spacious sports fields to observe the first solar eclipse in this country since 1999.  This was an excellent opportunity to bring students of all ages together to share their knowledge and the experience, from our 5 year olds in Reception to our oldest A Level students in the Upper Sixth Form.   The school provided solar glasses for the students courtesy of Jonathan and Sarah Higginson, who kindly donated the glasses, in memory of their 10 year old son, who died in a traffic accident in 2009. George, was science mad, and especially loved astronomy.  Consequently, his parents are raising money to purchase a telescope which will be placed in Williamson Park, Lancaster, for everyone to enjoy.  The school collected monetary donations for the solar glasses which raised over 200 pounds towards the funding of the George Higginson Telescope.

This was a fantastic learning opportunity for the whole school, with most teachers just as keen as the students to be outside and observing the scientific phenomenon.  It is important to encourage authentic learning at every opportunity.  The students in the Junior School engaged in a great deal of research during the week in their science lessons about solar eclipses and a number of classes even made their own pin-hole cameras.  Other classes decided to use colanders or telescopes to cast the shadow of the eclipse onto white paper.  Senior school students wrote about solar eclipses in their English lessons after learning about how they have been perceived in literature throughout history.  Meanwhile Physics lessons involved looking at the science behind the process of an eclipse and why they occur in different places around the Earth at different times.

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Although the weather was not favourable on the morning, the school did manage to glimpse the eclipse at different stages through small breaks in the clouds in the build-up to 9.31am.  There was a great deal of excitement and dialogue taking place about what was happening amongst the student community.  This was made more impressive and poignant as Senior School students facilitated learning as they buddied up and mentored the younger students from the Junior School to provide further explicit explanations.  It was a successful and important coming together of the school community with everyone being positive and optimistic despite the disappointing cloud cover.  You can see the impact a whole school community event like this can have here.

Getting to know the tax man

There have been many positives to coming back to my home land and re-introducing myself to the British idiosyncrasies that I had forgotten about.  Believe it or not I find it, literally, refreshing being able to walk home from work every evening with my eldest son Jonah – as we both get excited as the evenings gradually get lighter, although the Irish Sea wind does not get any warmer!  On the flip side though there has been a few aspects of British living that I did not fully comprehend and had never really acquainted myself with, even before I left these shores back in the late 90s.  One of these slight annoyances is the fact that I seem to be spending a lot of my time on the phone trying to pay bills or to set-up direct debits – it is definitely a world of monthly transaction out there – monthly wage in to be slowly eroded by a string of outgoing payments to just survive British routine.  In a perverse kind of way, this is one of the reasons we came back to learn and experience a ‘normal’ life, how to account for and budget for family living.  I never expected to be on the phone so much though, and finding it so hard to get answers to questions.

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

There is a vast amount of information on the internet but that doesn’t always make life easier or getting things done straight forward. These are just a few of my observations, but I do get the general feeling that large companies and organisations want to make processing information and helping the general public as difficult as possible – why are they so averse to speaking with people on the phone or doing e-mails, how many people do they (or not) employ in their call offices?  Why can’t you just e-mail someone and get a straight forward answer and piece of advice?  Everybody is different and everybody has a different background and circumstance, whether it be; cultural, social, financial, personal and even educational.  Surely these service companies should be providing the best possible customer service to ensure there is no ambiguity or areas of vagueness… a cause of concern or doubt (legally or financially) can really loom over someones head for weeks on end until it has been sorted out.

Being reflective

Being reflective

We all have an impression of the ‘tax man’ in our minds, the perceived baddie of the financial accountability world.  Tax is something you can’t avoid and nobody should.  I believe in taxation and I am proud to be living in a democratic country that has a safe and reliable infrastructure that my family and I can take advantage of on a regular basis. That much makes sense and I have no quibbles over my tax rates and outgoings from my monthly wage. What I do have an issue with is that it is a complete minefield out there and you could spend your entire time trying to negotiate the abyss of the tax world just to make sure you are doing things right and can sleep at night.  This is a perfect example of lack of advice or guidance and keeping things simple, and I am (supposedly) an educated, native English speaker, think what others must be going through.  The website is like a maze of dead-ends and loops that bring you right back to where you started – just give me an e-mail address to get a straight forward answer!  No, you have to ring a certain number at a certain time, listen to a monologue of automated options and make a pot luck guess at which one to choose before being put on hold for half a day!  This is obviously an exaggeration, but it is claimed that average waiting times are around 11 minutes, but this is a lottery and you do actually have to dedicate at least half a day to get this done and hope that your questions are answered, which they are often not and you are then advised to phone someone else, with a different job title at another time.  In fact last week, I was told I needed a technician to answer a certain question and that they would phone me back within 7 days at a time that suited me – I said after 6.00pm would be great.  Walking home from work later that week I checked my answer phone messages and there it was a polite but brief message from the technician saying that they had called me back but I did not answer – that would be because it was midday when they phoned and I was fully engaged in my work, back to square one!

What can you do though?  They have you right where they want you, a captured market. You either have to persist with deadlines looming, the dreaded 31st January – it is like the ‘Day of Judgement’, or pay someone to do your tax forms and write off a substantial amount of well-earned income.  It can be quite depressing and distracts you from your work commitments and home life as I said before – it looms over you.  That is until you get through to Colette.  After negotiating the automated responses and listening to Greensleeves again on loud speaker phone whilst replying to some e-mails for however many minutes I am put on hold and trying not to waste the time, suddenly Colette’s angelic voice like a miracle reaches out to me and says, “Hello, my name is Colette, how can I help you today?”  There is a sudden mass release of frustration as I connect with Collete and say, “Am I glad to hear from you Colette, please don’t go any where – promise (?), I really need your help, this tax business is like a minefield.”  I hear Colette giggle down the phone as she becomes even more human and normal as I picture her helpful persona and sympathetic smile on the other end of the phone.  “Don’t worry Mr. Crouch, tell me what I can help you with and I will talk you through it, are you logged onto your computer?”  “Yes, yes I am Colette, are you really going to help me step-by-step, are you sure you have got the time(?), please don’t go anywhere!”  “It really won’t take that long Mr. Crouch, I am not going anywhere, are you ready?”

Community partnerships

Community partnerships

For the next 20 – 25 minutes Colette guided me and reassured me as I over-dramatically (not wanting her to disappear) plugged in what I needed to submit.  She was just herself and very personable but most of all she laughed and was supportive of the difficulties this process may create for some people.  She didn’t rush the conversation or sound frustrated at all, no mention of referring back to the website.  I don’t know if the time and guidance Colette dedicated to me was above and beyond her job description, I don’t know if this is profitable for her organisation to commit that amount of time per individual call, I don’t know if others had to wait even longer as Colette was dealing with me.  What I do know though is that in 2 months of trying to get this done she was the only person to actually take the time to engage with me and treat me as a normal person who just wants to do the right thing.  I hope they did record our conversation for training purposes and use Colette as a shining example at their next training day (picture that!), I would also like to put forward Colette for employee of the month and give her a pay rise for going above and beyond – which is surely what working in the service industry is all about.  If not then I would like to put Colette forward for Global Citizen of the week, thank you Colette.

The Comedy Carpet

photo 4 (9)

Sometimes you have no idea what you are going to find or come across.  Your preconceived impression of a place often does not do it justice.  There are gems of brilliance, beauty, imagination, innovation, quirkiness, weird and wonderful everywhere. You just have to have your eyes open and be prepared to get out and about and explore the world you live in.

photo 2 (18)

Today we ventured into Blackpool and took on the bitterly cold wind to find out a bit more about our new home and what the promenade had to offer on a Sunday in January.  It was not a democratic family decision and the sight of us defiantly picnicking in isolation next to the central pier did cause a few aggravated protests as red numb hands tried to claw crisps out of their fragile packets.

photo 2 (17)We packed up our picnic and deposited our rubbish and headed up towards the tower to get a family photo to confirm in the archives that we were here.  Glum faces trudged up the promenade in single file like a Tour de France break away group using the lead rider as a wind shield.  Surely nothing could bring a smile to their faces not even those dreaded words, “say cheese!”

photo 3 (10)

How wrong can one be though, and who would have thought that for the next hour the cold wind and frozen bones would be forgotten. Suddenly, underneath our feet the promenade erupted into an impressive spread of quotes, stories, catch phrases and jokes, known as The Comedy Carpet, created by Gordon Young and commissioned by Blackpool Council.  It is a superbly well presented collection of comedy genius that encapsulates the very best of British humour.

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We all went off in our own directions, heads down and reading the vast array of reflections and chuckling to ourselves.  You would actually need hours to read them all and one day I will go back and start from a different angle and note new favourites, some old and some never heard before. Everyone likes jokes and loves to share them, and it wasn’t long until Jonah was tugging me over to listen to his favourite jokes that he had read inscribed on the Blackpool promenade – one being something to do with horses playing water polo!  (You can read some of Jonah’s very own jokes here.)

photo 1 (22)

On the way home in the car it was interesting that nobody complained how cold they were or had been, instead everybody was still sharing their favourite jokes and even Zoe and Sam were trying to make up their own ones.  It is a real hidden gem and I am glad that we discovered it so early on.  The Comedy Carpet will now be a regular feature on future Crouch tours – you have be warned when you come and visit!

 

 

Setting targets to achieve identities

Thailand

Post contributed by Eline Postma

Target: To be fluent in at least two languages.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to be exposed to three different languages: Dutch, English and Thai. It is difficult to pinpoint which language would be considered my mother language, because it all depends on what definition is given to the concept of ‘mother language’. If it entails the first language that was spoken, it might even be Laotian because I lived with my Thai grandparents for a while, who live in the North of Thailand and speak with a Laotian dialect.

Speaking more than one language

Speaking more than one language

During my time at The Regent’s School Pattaya (2000-2006), I became fluent in English. This caused my knowledge of the Dutch language to diminish, because I never practiced speaking it. As a result, I had to spend a summer reading Dutch children’s books before I returned to a Dutch secondary school at the age of 16. Going back to a Dutch school before university has helped me tremendously, since most of the lectures were given in Dutch. At present, I am proud to claim that I can speak and write both Dutch and English at an academic level.

I want to enrol in an online course to learn how to read and write Thai. I think this will be beneficial for my career, since I want to work with marine conservation NGOs in the Southeast Asia region.

family

Target: To complete a bachelor’s degree at university

In October 2013, I received my bachelor’s diploma in Marine Biology from the University of Groningen. There have been points, especially in the first year, that I doubted my abilities to participate at such a high academic level. At first, I feared that I wasn’t good enough, but later on, I realised I had to change my ways of taking notes in class as well as adjusting my study methods. I also learnt that it made a huge difference whether I had an affinity with the subject; I preferred ecology over bio-medical subjects and received higher grades in the former.

Academic achievement

Academic achievement

I am currently working on completing my two-in-one Master’s degree. What I mean by this, is that I am actually completing two degrees, but at the end I will have one diploma. This means I will have a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences, with a track in Limnology & Oceanography, and a major in Science Communication. I hope I haven’t lost you there! To complete my first year of Limnology & Oceanography, I still have to hand in my research paper, which I’ve been procrastinating on, because I’ve stopped believing in the project. In short, I researched the nutrient uptake dynamics in a particular species of seaweed, but because my lab results weren’t very good, I’ve lost all my motivation to complete my internship. My goal is to finish it before the end of the year and work with what I have!