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

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

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

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.

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!

Children and Diet

 Contributed by Dr Simon Crouch: @srcrouch

Facilitating Debate

Facilitating Debate

While this blog makes for a halcyon picture of reminiscence it highlights the struggle we face to ensure that children are both provided with healthy diets and the necessary signposts to teach them healthy eating habits.

In the UK it is recommended that all children aged 11 years and over should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Recent data suggest that British kids aren’t even getting close. Data collected over four years from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey indicates that only 10% of boys and 7% of girls are meeting that target.

Internationally we see a similar picture. In Australia the recommendations are even more stringent – four portions of vegetables and a further three portions of fruit per day for children aged 12-18 years. Similar to their British cousins Australian children are also falling woefully short with only 5% meeting the target.

Childhood obesity is becoming an increasing issue in developed countries. Child health is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes and obesity is one of the biggest threats to population health in an ever developing world. While physical activity is important for overall health it is a healthy diet that plays the most significant role in maintaining a healthy weight.


There are many factors that impact on healthy behaviours, including family circumstances and the community in which individuals live, but with children spending such a large proportion of their informative years in school it is important that the school environment is promoting healthy diets.

Fish, chips and mushy peas topped off with jam sponge and custard may be a delight to tastebuds harking back to a bygone era but this meal arguably contains only one serve of fruit or vegetable (I am not even sure if the mushy peas count). In no way does it achieve the national standards which stipulate that every school meal must contain at least two serves of fruit or veg.

Jamie Oliver may not be loved by everyone but he has played a role in highlighting this issue and helped pushed governments to begin the slow process of cultural change. But students and parents alike need to continue to strive for healthier diets in all contexts, particularly where government standards do apply.

Education in schools is not confined to the classroom and should not be put on hiatus when the kids go for lunch. The school canteen is the perfect place to teach our children how to lead healthy lives, and perhaps the best way to their brains is through their tummies.

15 Years of Stuff!

Where is the Ark?

Where is the Ark?

To read this post with sound effects click here.

One of my favourite movies of all time and also an excellent final scene, although apparently it is mostly a painting, is the vast warehouse we see two men wheeling a large box into before the final credits of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Somewhere amongst the thousands of boxes the Ark of the Covenant has been hidden safely away by the government forever (or has it?) much to our hero Indiana Jones’ frustration.  Well I have news for ‘Indie’ the Ark of the Covenant could very well be on a ship somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean as this was a similar (not painted) scene in our Thai house not so long ago when we had the packers and shippers in.

Which one is it?

Which one is it?

I came to Thailand in 1999, over 15 years ago, to teach computers to primary students for two years.  I promised my mother I would be back in Derbyshire before she knew it! Now 15 years later I am finally returning home, back to the UK; with a wife, three children and 91 boxes of stuff!  I can’t believe it, where did it all come from and what are we going to do with it in the UK?



To be honest I am a bit embarrassed about it and we keep saying to each other, my wife and I – why on earth did we ship that?  During the last few weeks that we have been without our 91 boxes of stuff, things so important and vital that we felt they needed to be shipped half way around the world, there is only one item that has been consistently missed and commented on by all in the family.  The toaster!!  We do miss our toaster.

There it goes...

There it goes…

My own reflections during this transition process have made me realise how much material possessions we accumulate, especially just returning from Vietnam and spending time with family there and seeing how simple but easy daily life can be.  I know it is a cliche but who is actually happier?  In fact both sets of family are probably just as happy but I know which one has the more complicated life.  The irony is that we are going to have to keep most of our stuff in the 91 boxes for the best part of 6 months until we find somewhere big enough to live permanently and then move it all again – but this time just up the road.  I hope my wife remembers which box she packed the toaster in!

See you in 6 weeks!

See you in 6 weeks!

Thinking about (our) stuff and the pressures of consumerism reminded me of a couple of resources that I would like to share on this post, I have used them both on numerous occasions in the past for Geography lessons and also Global Citizenship workshops / sessions, take a look – I hope you like them:

The Story of Stuff.

Hungry Planet: What the world eats.



The Scottish Referendum

Contributed by Karen Partyka

Karen's voting card

Karen’s voting card

On Thursday 18th September the Scottish people had the extraordinary opportunity to vote for or against independence. It was very interesting living in the country leading up to the day, things were much tighter than perhaps people could have hoped for. For me it was very inspiring seeing the pupils in my school who were eligible to vote throwing themselves into politics. Many that I spoke to had taken time to research the different options and thought carefully about their vote. They each took their vote seriously and felt they were making a difference in their country. Once they had made their decision they were passionate about their vote and got involved in the campaigning. Also in the school the younger pupils also were engaged. Even though they could not vote many had decided what they would have voted. There were many lively debates and discussions heard around the school, in the classrooms and in corridors.

But what struck me the most was how lucky I and the Scottish people were to have our democratic right to choose, to be able to go on the streets and campaign and engage with people and tell them what I had democratically chosen. There are many people in the world who do not have that right and in some cases do not have the freedom of speech.

Pantila, as head student, encouraging whole school voting for student leadership positions during election time

Pantila, as head student, encouraging whole school voting for student leadership positions during election time

I have a friend who told when he votes in his country, you go into the booth, mark your card with “your choice” then someone “checks” you have chosen the candidate that the government has decided will win then you put your card in the box. This is happening today! In these countries they would be arrested for campaigning for their candidate if it was not the chosen one. Today there are 5 communist countries where people do not have the democratic right to openly vote, there are also many more countries which have restrictions about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. According to the Press Freedom Index 2014 “the bottom three countries freedom of information is non-existent”. The Index lists 180 countries and Eritrea is 180th, North Korea 179th and Turkmenistan 178th. Other countries which have terrible records for free speech are Cuba and China and both these countries have the biggest prisons in the world for journalists according to the Press Freedom Index.

senior students facilitating discussion and debate regarding changes in their school constitution

senior students facilitating discussion and debate regarding changes in their school constitution

There are also countries where criticism of their religion or monarchy is illegal and people are imprisoned for committing these crimes.

All the information about lack of democracy and freedom of speech makes me realise that on Thursday 18th September 2014 along with 84% of the Scottish population we cast our vote in a democracy with no fear of imprisonment.

Setting personal targets help you to flow


Cycling is a great way to push yourself, just as many other sports and hobbies are – especially if you enjoy doing them.  You don’t always have to push yourself though as it is often just as rewarding to do something to relax and to take your mind off things.  On the flip side I also find cycling an excellent opportunity to reflect, go over previous experiences and events and to also formulate new ideas for upcoming projects and activities.  I have realised that this happens best when really exerting yourself in the saddle and taking on the terrain – the brain seems to have a positive connection with the effort being put in to get up a steep hill and the exhilaration you feel by beating a best time or furthering a maximum distance achieved.  I am sure there is a biological explanation or a proven concept for this – I compare it to the state of FLOW, a theory first explained by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.


Flow is where you lose yourself in the function, when your skills to do something are being challenged by the difficulty of the task or a personal target to succeed.  You can often recognise that you have experienced this state when time has flown by – as a teacher it is especially rewarding when you hear your students say that they can’t believe it is the end of the lesson, ‘the time has just flown by!‘  To me this signifies that they have experienced the following attributes to their learning during that lesson:

Engagement, challenge, ownership, confidence, fun, skill utilisation and development


I very much enjoy cycling with my own children and watching them grow in confidence as they have moved from their tricycles to learning wheels and then onto their first proper bikes.  My oldest son is now cycling with gears and is always inquiring about the science behind how they work and why they make uphill cycling easier, etc.  My daughter, who has only just turned five, doesn’t have gears on her little pink bike but loves the motivation and challenge to ride as far as her big brother – she has just rode her first 10kms and was very proud of her achievement.


What impresses me is when I see them jump on their bikes without any encouragement and watch them ride around the garden and compound.  They set up little bike tracks and obstacle courses and challenge each other to do different tricks.  They are exploring their abilities themselves and using their confidence to be even better cyclists with a more diverse range of skills.  I want them to set themselves personal targets (Jonah now wants to cycle 20kms – without his sister!) but not at the cost of not enjoying the experience and possibly putting them off that activity or hobby permanently.  Getting the balance right is important, knowing when to let go and not to push them too far is not easy as a parent or a teacher but it is worth it to seek that optimum state of flow and an independent resilience to be successful in life.

You may also like this post: Congratulations to Poppy Mulford on achieving the Global Catalyst Award

Sewing for global citizenship

Contributed by Karen Partyka

Sewing with Karen

Sewing with Karen

I started sewing earlier this year. I wanted to be free from being told what to wear by fashion and be creative. I also started making little things for other people, bags, lavender sachets etc. Then recently I saw online about a woman called Lillian Weber. She is 99-year-old and for the last two years she has been making dresses for girls in Africa through an organisation called Little Dresses for Africa.

Lillian Weber making dresses for others

Lillian Weber making dresses for others




So far she has made more than 840 dresses and she plans to make 150 more by next May which will mean on her 100th birthday, she will have made her 1000th dress! I was so impressed by this lady, she took her talent and decided to do something with it beyond her own life. I looked into this organisation and decided I could start making dresses.


The organisation mainly gives the dresses to girls in orphanages and to families who would have to choose between food or clothing but could not pay for both. I was horrified to read that during one of the trips to Sudan, they gave the dresses to little girls who were wearing absolutely nothing. Clothing is a basic necessity and one of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Having clothes gives you an identity, gives you a purpose and dignity. People who live in the developed world have no idea what it is like to have nothing to your name and how having one item of clothes which is yours only, you don’t have to share, just yours, can be the little seed which will grow. The charity’s motto is “We’re not just sending dresses, we are sending Hope

Watch this – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (always good to remind yourself)

We all have talents and gifts, when I was sewing my dresses I was thinking I was sending these to African countries and that my dresses would be saving the children. These dresses will not change their lives in a day and I am not saving these children. But it is a partnership, these children deserve the right to have the opportunity to develop into global citizens and to take up their place in their community and the world. One of these girls could become the leader of their country and allow it to prosper and years down the line they will teach me.

“Just because you can’t count it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.” Sir Ken Robinson

Ending Gender Inequality

Contributed by Anita van Dam

Anita on the beach with a student from the Camillian Centre

Anita on the beach with a student from the Camillian Centre

As part of her Global Ambassador Award submission Anita included this article that she wrote on Ending Gender Inequality as part of the Academic Achievement Identity.

Ending Gender Inequality

Did you know that two thirds of the world’s working hours are done by women, but they only earn 10% of the world’s income? Or that 60% of 77 million children without primary education are girls?

Research says that woman own less than 1% of the world’s property, and that out of 876 million adults worldwide that cannot read or write, two thirds of that are woman. 

Ever thought how gender inequality is stopping these beautiful humans from being treated fairly with respect and pride?

Gender inequality is one of the Millennium Development Goals that is considered heavily on and thought carefully through about how we can make every human being have equal chances, an equal say and equal opportunities, especially women and girls so they can be treated fairly. Girls should have a chance to learn to read and write and finish their schooling fully instead of being taken out in the middle of education to help their parents with work to allow their male relatives to learn. According to the United Nations Population Fund women who are educated are more likely to have fewer children, become pregnant at a more appropriate age than woman who were denied schooling and will have healthier children too. Most important, they are more likely to send their own children onto full education.

Furthermore, promoting gender inequality will have a positive effect on reducing poverty, another MDG that is extremely important and thoroughly thought through. When women get their healthy dose of education, they would be able to think carefully before doing something for example, they wouldn’t have more children than they can afford to take good care of. They would also be able to get a better and higher wage job which will also bring more respect to women throughout the community. With women getting more wages and fewer children, they would be able to take care of their family properly thus they would be free of poverty and reducing it.

Women with a voice make great role models in our human society with more ideas, ways to solving problems and are represented like the source of light in a dark atmosphere. By giving women a chance to vote and a chance to have a say is like allowing a hermit crab out of its shell and when that time comes, the Earth would become an unfolded map full of information.

Thailand has a few societies/foundations that help and encourage women to become brave and independent people who can express whatever they want, whenever they want and wherever they want. A very powerful person who believes in women and a book with unread mysteries is Khun Mechai. He believed in “giving women a choice” and made sure that women know how many children they’re going to have and that they and their children have a higher chance of good education and by that, you reduce the chance of a family not being able to care for their family and also increase confidence in women. Empowered women ultimately lead to an empowered community.

To conclude, I would like to say that I do believe that women need to be equal. We must have a say and equal chances and gender inequality must be stopped. We should also advertise about this so it becomes a well-known issue and everyone can help to end this. Remember, “If you educate a man, you educate a person but if you educate a woman, you educate a family.”

Thank you for reading,

Anita van Dam

Finding the leader in you

This is the story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.   Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. (Author unknown)

Leading by example

Leading by example

What type of leader are you?  Leadership lessons from dancing guy.

I strongly believe that there is a leader in everyone and that as a teacher it is my role to help young people (and my colleagues) discover what type of leader they are and what skills and values they bring to the learning environment and team.

“A good leader, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’”  Lao Tse

It is wrong to assume that a leader always leads from the front, is bold and confident – gives directions and delegates tasks.  Leadership is about inclusion and bringing the best out in everyone, achieving success for the common good.  By doing this we must look to go out of our comfort zones and also encourage others to do the same – but always remembering that each persons comfort zone is very different to others.  This is what the Global Citizenship Award is all about, helping people leave their comfort zones and discovering who they are and what types of leader through global citizenship you can be in the world today and also in the future.  We all have a role to play and can contribute in many different ways.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”  Charles Darwin

Amit delivers the opening address at the We Walk Together conference

Amit delivers the opening address at the We Walk Together conference

Don’t become a slave to social momentum, don’t be someone that seeks comfort over change.  Try something new everyday, speak to somebody new everyday, challenge yourself to be different and find the leader in you.

Think about the opportunities and possibilities instead of the challenges and problems.

If you change your thinking, you will change your actions!

Never heard of a hungi kengi?

Adpated from The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

On a Southwest Pacific Island called Rennell middle-aged islanders can name 126 different Rennell plant species in the Rennell language.  For each species they can explain whether the seeds and fruits are inedible to animals as well as to humans, or else eaten by birds and bats but not by humans, or else edible to humans.  Among those species eaten by humans, some are further distinguished as being ‘eaten only after the hungi kengi.’

How did the hungi kengi turn normally inedible fruits into edible ones?

A very old woman on the island is able to explain.  The hungi kengi was the Rennell name for the biggest cyclone to have hit the island in living memory, around about 1910.  The old woman had been a child at the time (and is now in her late 70s or 80s).  The cyclone had flattened Rennell’s forests, destroyed the gardens, and threatened the islanders with starvation.  Until new gardens could be planted and began producing, the people at the time had to resort to anything at all digestible, including not just the usual preferred wild fruit species but also that would be normally ignored – i.e., the fruits as being ‘eaten only after the hungi kengi’.  That required knowledge about which of those second-choice fruits were non-poisonous and safe to eat.  Fortunately, at the time of the hungi kengi, there were islanders alive who remembered an earlier cyclone and how they had coped then.  Now, this old woman is the last person alive in her village with that inherited experience and knowledge.

See also: ‘Laboon’ – the wave that eats people

Today there are about 7,000 languages still spoken throughout the world.  On average 10 languages become extinct every year and extinctions over the next century will leave the world with only a few hundred.

Why do languages become extinct?

What are the implications of a language becoming extinct?