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.

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Creating a string of useful habits

Kyu Bak preparing a presentation for the Global Issues Network Conference

Kyu Bak preparing a presentation for the Global Issues Network Conference

Post contributed by Kyu Bak Lee

I am a Korean national who grew up in Thailand. During my time in Thailand, I attended an international school that largely followed the British model. So, one can say that I saw the meaning of the word “education” being used and explained in many different ways. For the most part, due to my exposure to three different “worlds” (in a nutshell) from such a young age, my immediate answer to the question of ‘what makes a good education’ would differ tremendously in different cultures. However, now that I have gone through the likes of university, first job and now at a point where I can safely say that I have a career ahead of me, I have yearned for the ‘simple’ things in life.

A good education provides a student with a clear definition of what they are studying. Having a clear understanding of what they are studying provides not only guidance but fosters curiosity. Being curious is, and always will be, the pillar of human innovation.

A good education encourages the student to ask why and how.

A good education shows the student real-life case studies of what they have studied, so that they understand from the beginning that there are external and indirect factors that need to be considered.

A good education provides questions, discussions and potential scenarios for the student to show their understanding, and their ability to apply their knowledge.

A good education provides feedback that opens up a dialogue to foster more discussion with the interested parties.

Kyu Bak and Nics, a great Head Boy and Head Girl team - student leaders

Kyu Bak and Nics, a great Head Boy and Head Girl team – student leaders

I believe my time in University had the most profound impact on my life. You are at a place where everyone was a star pupil in their high school, the quarterback, the debate champion, the community leader, the superman of their respective school and organization. It was a place where I knew I had to challenge myself constantly. Not only that, but the responsibility that life threw me during my days as a university student was also a great lesson for me. From having your teachers, parents and friends help you one way or another to having nobody in a foreign land and culture put me on survival mode 101. I was excited to see myself change and adapt and I also learned to be appreciative of the people that I have in my life. I saw a new me that was scared, excited, sad and jubilant. Some turbulent times that proved that without education, there really is no basis in life that you can turn to. Another thing that I want to mention here is to look at “failures” differently. A profile in failure is as important, or even more so, than a profile in success. Failure should be welcomed if you want to better and further yourself in any given situation.

In Europe at the Global Issues Network Conference with friends

In Europe at the Global Issues Network Conference with friends

So far, my greatest achievement that I have experienced thus far is surrounding myself with awesome people. I have always believed in the power of storytelling and discussions. If you are able to surround yourself with people that not only carry different experiences but also are able to effectively communicate that with you, then you have all the tools you need to succeed. Human beings have always seen each other as part of a collective unit; part of something much larger than them. It only makes sense that we are able to draw out the best of ourselves through the collective help of people and their diverse and dynamic experiences. Finding the “right” group is always hard and I am not saying that it will always come naturally, but how do you know what works for you and what doesn’t from the beginning? You always need to fail, to succeed and to achieve.

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My next challenge is to push myself and become the owner of my own business. One of the things that I learned about myself in university was that I liked the responsibilities, I liked the leadership, and I liked the fast pace and ever changing environment that I found myself in. This all pointed to one thing, and that was entrepreneurship. I tested myself with a few serious projects here and there during my time in university, but those all failed. They were absolutely fun and enriching, but they all went up in flames. The failures only cemented my view that I would need to be my own boss and it only made me content that I was fortunate enough to do what I wanted and fail at it, and be okay.

Being reflective

Being reflective

I would like to share what I wish I had heard when I was a student at school; which is “to create a string of useful habits from a young age.”

Get in to a habit of carrying a small notepad around to write down your thoughts and opinion at any given time. In this day and age, it could be an app on your mobile device, but I like my piece of paper and a pencil. People could argue that they have diaries that they keep but having to recollect your feelings and ideas at the end of the day is a daunting task. So, why not keep it simple by writing it down throughout your day? By doing this, you will find your own efficient way of note-taking and drawing diagrams that you can always go back to and reflect on your days, weeks and years.

Get into a habit of reading. Whether they are books, magazines or online articles; find your interest and passion, and read about them and other people’s, take them on to help you gain an all-round understanding of your interests and passions. This will not only put you closer to your interests, but it will also surprise you as it will expose you to thoughts and ideas that you would not be able to generate on your own.

Get into a habit of playing sports. Playing sports is a great way to make new friends and to learn more about yourself as well. How are you different to playing team games to individual sports? What is it that gets you motivated? Was it the spirit of competition and sportsmanship? Was it the chance to win something? If you play sports, you will always learn more about yourself.

Get into a habit of joining social clubs. If you are a part of a club, then you start experiencing different responsibilities that will be different to finishing your group project, or your homework or your class presentation. It gives you a glimpse of life outside of school that we all need to prepare for.

 

What will you achieve in 2015?

Public speaking

Public speaking

As we begin 2015 I thought it might be interesting to reflect on the the Global Citizenship Award website and to review some of the statistics so far.  I would like to thank everyone who has followed the development of the site and award over the last six months and especially to all those people who have contributed, commented and (especially) achieved their award – 9 amazing global citizens so far.  I am sure that there will be many more in 2015.

Patrick and a piano

Patrick and a piano

A London underground train holds 1,200 people. The GC Award website was viewed about 7,850 times in 2014. If it were a London underground train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.  The busiest day of the year was November 11th with 328 views.

The most popular post / blog was: One Man and a Piano.  This post was inspired by a talented young man, called Patrick, who we met at Heathrow Airport back in November.  He was playing one of those stand alone pianos and instantly caught the imagination of my two oldest kids.

A Christmas Gift

A Christmas Gift

The next four most popular posts in order were:

2. Thailand Reflections

3. The Rice Challenge – A Scottish Perspective

4.  A Christmas Gift

5.  Congratulations to Karen Partyka on achieving the Global Citizenship Award

 

Where are you reading about the GC Award?

Where are you reading about the GC Award?

 

People who have viewed the GC Award website are from 101 different countries; with the UK, Thailand, US, Australia and Brazil the top five countries that have made the most views.

The New Year has arrived and what better time than to make new targets and to challenge yourself to bigger and better things through learning and reflective practice.

Personal target setting

Personal target setting

The GC Award team would love to hear from you and will monitor and celebrate your progress as we bring new ideas and developments together through a global citizenship approach to education. Remember you can choose to submit all 16 Identities together once completed (see these Global Ambassadors for example) or submit them one at a time as individual reflections / posts (see this post by Manoj on service learning).  You can submit your post / reflection/s here.

We will always give individual constructive feedback and can guarantee that your achievements and experiences are inspiring others elsewhere around the world at the same time helping you to build a digital portfolio of personal achievement through global citizenship learning – something you will always have and use in the future.  Don’t let those amazing opportunities and experiences be wasted.  2015 is your year – go grab it!

The Season of Giving

Contributed by Brittany Tang

Christmas post

Here in Michigan, the winter months seem to set a much needed peaceful atmosphere in the hustle and bustle of exams. As the snow falls gently from the sky and accumulates on the ground, sparkling ever so slightly, a quietness blankets the city of Ann Arbor. Students study in the warmth of the residential halls and cozy up next to soft velvet blankets, sipping hot beverages as they work hard to make their mark on the world. I’ve met some very inspiring individuals who are motivated to constantly do their part to benefit others. They lead organizations that help the impoverished, raise money for better education/health systems overseas and work hard to share with others their philosophies of kindness and global citizenship.

As Christmas approaches, I think of those who aren’t so fortunate to have a warm place to sleep during the bitterly cold and windy evenings. I also think of the children and adults who have limited access to medical and educational resources whose Christmases are consumed with worry and distress. In my local community, these people are the homeless. They roam the streets during the summer, spring and fall seasons and desperately seek shelter during the winter. I do my best to help these individuals by volunteering in the Food Gatherer’s kitchen in the basement of the homeless shelter. We make hot soups, pastas, and steam vegetables. There is always coffee, juice and water as well as fruit and dessert and all of the food that is used to make the meals is donated by local grocery stores and educational institutions. It is so heartwarming to see volunteers filling the kitchen with smiles, enthusiasm, excitement and the hope that they can help make a homeless person experience a few moments of joy by eating a delicious meal.

Is it about giving or receiving?

Is it about giving or receiving?

The giving doesn’t stop there. It’s wonderful! In my residential hall, students are collecting donated hats, gloves, mittens and scarves in an event called the “giving tree” with the hopes of sending these donations to Safe House. This organization provides support for individuals who have been impacted by domestic violence and/or sexual assault. We are also holding a knitting session one evening to make our own winter attire to donate.

The holiday mood has engulfed my dorm. The halls are decorated with paper snowflakes and the doors are covered in Christmas wrapping paper. Despite the small stresses of university, joy is in the air and the desire to help others is prominent and it is a beautiful sight!

To read other posts by Brittany please click here.

The gap effect

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

Post contributed by Dan Bowie

Just thought I’d update you on my latest exciting news! Today I found out I got the QUEST Scholarship – sponsored by VINCI.  It’s an amazing opportunity not many get to experience and to say I’m pleased is an understatement. Sheffield University seems to be a bit of a hot spot for successful candidates so – as I’m sure you can imagine – a few celebratory drinks will be had!
There is a teacher in everyone

There is a teacher in everyone

I want to take the opportunity to say thanks, the experience I gained in Thailand is without a doubt the reason I got in – especially when I look at the high standard of unsuccessful applicants. Accepting me into the Gap Programme was a stepping stone that has (and will continue to) lead to so many amazing opportunities. So thanks to all who supported me at the school.
Trekking in the north of Thailand

Trekking in the north of Thailand

Uni life is very good, the course is fairly intense and I’ve already handed in coursework and completed online tests that count towards my 1st year grade, which is a little surreal.  The social side is definitely a change from Thailand, but a change I am very much liking. I have joined the hockey team and this of course means socials (and some hockey!).  I will keep you posted.

If you liked this post then read more about gap year experiences here.

Project Nepal – a personal service learning initiative

Post contributed by Manoj Chapagain

Service Learning

Service Learning

Whilst I was at secondary school in Thailand I always wanted to do something that would help my village community in Nepal. During my last year of my high school, I asked some of my friends and teachers to help me raise money to buy computers for my village school where I studied during my childhood. We called this project “Project Nepal.”  This started August of 2013.

 

Joyce centre, Manoj far right

Joyce centre, Manoj far right

My friend Joyce and some other friends encouraged me and were willing to support me fully. We started doing fund raising events such as a dodge ball tournament, a computer game tournament and many other events at the school. In addition my friend Joyce who helped me enormously to raise money by asking her friends back in Taiwan to donate money to the project. She has contributed the most to this project.  All together we raised $3400. Furthermore, Mr. Alex (a friend of Peter Dalglish’s in Bangkok and my friend too) contributed approximately $500 to the project, totaling up to 364250 NPR.

The Project Nepal team

The Project Nepal team

The school already had a room that needed painting, carpeting, a fan and many other things.  When I got back to Nepal in the summer I went to the village and started overseeing this. Now the room has 7 computers from Project Nepal and another five computers which were donated to the school by a cement factory. The installation for internet is still in the process.

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Five students and two teachers visited the school for a week to see the school and set up the computer lab. They stayed in my village in my home for two nights and it was amazing to see my friends in my village and for them to experience a little bit of the village life. Everyday we used to walk to the school where my friends played games, interact and teach English to the school kids.

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It was fantastic for me to see students from my school interacting with kids in my village. It felt great because I was part of the village school during my childhood and then I also became a part of my new school’s family. It almost felt like joining two families together.

 

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This is the first Project Nepal “PROJECT” and it was successful. I was really pleased with our work and of course the credit goes to everyone. When I go back to Nepal I will check how much progress they have made and if any change has come to the school for the students.  I also hope to do many other projects in Nepal with and for the Nepalese people.

To read more posts about Manoj please click here.

The Rice Challenge – An American Perspective

Contributed by Sara Menges

Proactive and Innovative

Proactive and Innovative

Thank you Paul Crouch for nominating me to do the rice challenge! And thank you to Robyn Fox for this wonderful idea of donating rice to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in place of the ice bucket challenge. Since water is such a precious commodity and Los Angeles is facing a drought right now, I was especially pleased to be able to contribute to the ALS movement in this way.

With the Thanksgiving holidays coming up, I decided to donate my bag of rice to the Union Station Homeless Services (Union Station) organization. Committed to ending homelessness in the community, Union Station helps homeless men, women, and children rebuild their lives. Every year they also host a Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park community event that provides holiday meals for homeless individuals, seniors, very low-income families, and those with no place to go during the holidays.

2013 Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park Credit: SOSA PHOTO, www.pasadenanow.com

2013 Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park
Credit: SOSA PHOTO, http://www.pasadenanow.com

I decided to call and ask if a big bag of rice would be useful for their kitchen staff and in preparing for the festivities. The response was very positive! The lady I chatted with on the phone loved the rice challenge idea and thanked me for thinking of Union Station. With this go ahead, I loaded my 50 pound bag of rice into a suitcase and rolled on down to the Adult Center I was advised to drop it off at. The staff at the center looked a little confused at first but laughter and smiles quickly proceeded after I explained the challenge.

Donating my bag of rice!

Donating my bag of rice!

This challenge was a joy to complete for the impact it would have on the center and for the impact it had on me. It never ceases to amaze me how therapeutic a random act of kindness can be. For the rest of the day, after the donation, I felt like I was walking on air! I also noticed a significant shift in the conversation I was having with my friend who accompanied me. Rather than listing all the problems he had to deal with that week, he was instead talking about the different things he could implement to tackle them more easily. It’s as if the whole experience allowed us both to reduce the stress levels in our body and flood it with more positivity instead. I guess Booker T. Washington had a point when he said “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

To spread the message and joy that comes with this challenge, I am now nominating Cassie Pais, Elizabeth Williams, and Marissa Merrill. How will you donate your rice? Who will you choose to uplift? Can’t wait to see!