Aware, Able, Act

Have you ever heard a tree breathe?

Have you ever heard a tree breathe?

Aware, Able, Act:  separately three simple words but together they combine to make a very powerful vision.  A school’s curriculum or learning programme (as I prefer to call it) is very similar to this concept.  We constantly use words to describe and explain all aspects of education and teaching, each one with their own relevance to specific students and their progress through school, each one seemingly important in their own right: assessment, holistic, standards, creativity, progress, leadership, independent, collaborative, the list goes on…  These words can look and sound very impressive and you will often see them on most school’s websites, in prospectuses and throughout publicity materials that promote and explain elements of a curriculum.  They mean very little though if there is nothing to bring them together, to link them like a helix that intertwines through everything a school does for its students and make learning authentic.  A really good school will have a learning programme that does this, and will be fully aware of the ‘DNA’ that brings these words and their impact on the students alive.

crushing egg shells for fertiliser

crushing egg shells for fertiliser

Aware:  All schools provide students with knowledge; it is the basis of education and the key objective to passing tests and exams ultimately gaining qualifications to (apparently?) be successful in life.  There is a lot more to life than just passing examinations therefore we want our students to be inquirers and critical thinkers to become socially and emotionally intelligent, not solely to be spoon-fed and reliant upon the passing of information, there is so much more to know, to feel and to find out.  Realistically students today can find the answer to anything without a teacher (my son is forever on Youtube watching National Geographic); the important thing is the process and how to gain the knowledge and questioning its validity.

what a learning environment!

what a learning environment!

Able:  Education is not from the neck up!  It is important to allow our students to learn in the ways that best suit them, to use all of their senses, emotions and skills, to be able to learn outside of the box.  A good test (for the students and teacher!) would be to observe a class with no teacher and to see what the students would do?  Giving children the knowledge and making them aware is important but a good programme will also ‘equip’ them, give them the tools and the confidence to use their knowledge, to be independent learners and to share it with others.

we dance together

we dance together

Act:  Too many people make the mistake of jumping straight into action.  Without real awareness and the vested time in life skills, cultural awareness and confidence building then this can be a negative experience rather than a proactive one and in the long-term this can be quite damaging in many ways.  With accurate and detailed knowledge and a confident skill set young people are empowered to make a difference, and they will.  This is not a powerful vision but a reality.

going above and beyond for learning

going above and beyond for learning

The Global Citizenship Award realizes this reality and helps young people graduate from school:  Aware, Able and Acting.  You to can also be part of this learning experience and make the most of your potential as a global citizen.  Choose an Identity, set yourself a challenging target and get reflecting – we look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Setting personal targets help you to flow

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

Congratulations to Chuliporn Mae Underwood on achieving the Global Ambassador Award

Learn to know, Learn to do, Learn to be, Learn to live together

To see Mae’s portfolio of targets and reflections for the Global Ambassador Award please click here.

sustainability

 

Comment from Mae:

Doing the award was relatively easy if done along side the CAS program offered by the International Baccalaureate. However, if I did not have to do the CAS program I would have still gone for this award, as it is a good sort of guide if you want to develop and better prepare yourself for life after high school – plus it’s an accomplishment to be proud of! Also, it took me just under two years to complete this award, although it probably should have taken one.

Mae

Mae on starting university at UC Davis:

I would also like to mention some interesting things about my university – during freshmen orientation at UC Davis, they told us that, after our first year, the extra-curricular activities we did throughout High School will no longer be significant on our CV. I found that a bit shocking but I’m excited to see what kind of opportunities I will be offered here and how it might differ from the ones I took in Thailand. I am also proud to say that UC Davis is a very environmentally-aware community. It is a sort of bike town where everyone cycles to classes and even around downtown Davis. It’s also an agricultural area so there is an abundance of organic produce. My residence hall is right next to the cows, but they say you get used to the cow smell.

Mae with YaYa and the Girl-Up group

Mae with YaYa and the Girl-Up group

Congratulations Mae on being an amazing Global Citizen.  We look forward to hearing about your progress and achievements in becoming a Global Mentor.

 

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.

girl

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

Congratulations to Katrin Puutsa on achieving the Global Mentor Award

Learn to know, Learn to do, Learn to be, Learn to live together

To see Katrin’s portfolio of targets and reflections for the Global Mentor Award please click here.

Kati on the Baan Maelid project in Thailand

Kati on the Baan Maelid project in Thailand

Comment from Katrin:

Completing the award was an ongoing process for me, which started possibly back when I was in primary school. I have been fortunate enough to attend schools and work for organisations with vasts amount of opportunities to get involved with activities and projects to work towards the award. On the journey I’ve also been lucky to meet inspiring people and realise the journey never really ends, as when you grow your network and step out of your comfort zone, new and exciting opportunities arise, you just need the courage to grab them, learn and grow from them!

Kati, always up for the challenge!

Kati, always up for the challenge!

Congratulations Katrin on being an amazing Global Citizen.  We look forward to reading your contributions to the Global Citizenship Award website and continuing to be a global mentor to young people and anyone that you meet.

 Assessed by: Paul Crouch, Brittany Tang and Sarah Travis-Mulford

The Michigan Difference

Contributed by Brittany Tang

Michigan

After spending three weeks at the University of Michigan, I am starting to feel the energy in the air, the buzz of academia, the passion and excitement of being part of what is essentially a small city. The first week I dipped my toes into the academic pool of my classes. I got used to what was expected of me and how to succeed. After I felt sufficiently settled and comfortable with my studies I started searching for leadership positions and community service based clubs to join.

I ran for and was elected President of the Events Planning Committee (EPC) for the HSSP (Health Sciences Scholar’s Program) community. As the President, I help facilitate weekly EPC meetings, I design agendas and communicate with the representatives from each HSSP committee. I am also a member of the HSSP Community Service Committee. Myself, along with others in the committee plan service endeavors for the HSSP community: volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House for families with children in critical condition, volunteering at Indian Trails Camp for children and adults with disabilities, ect. I recently received an email from a 4th year MD PhD student who is working to establish an NGO to help provide health care for people in Uganda. A group of  students including myself, will be establishing a sister program for the undergraduate school to raise awareness for the NGO Progressive Health Partnership (PHP) as well as raise some funds. The link to the project is as follows: Progressive Health Partnership | People Helping People. I am also part of an organization called the VIEW (Volunteers Involved Every Week).  The mission of this organization is to “empower students to become educated leaders and create social change in partnership with local organizations and communities”. This club in particular, stood out to me because of its emphasis on global citizenship and community service. I am very excited to be part of the team!

Finally, from a more academic point of view this past week has been extremely busy because I am in the process of searching for undergraduate research opportunities. I sent out multiple applications for multiple research projects and I have had lots of very educational interviews. I am really enjoying the entire process of finding a project I am interested in researching to securing a place on the research team. I have yet to commit to a particular project, at the moment, however by next week I will have my research position. Overall, I think the most important thing to remember is that balance is so incredibly important. Attending university has really challenged me in a positive way and has allowed me to grow into the individual I endeavor to be. I hope to continue down this path of leadership, service, academia and research and I am very excited to see how this first year turns out!

To read more posts by Brittany please click here.

Acting local and thinking global with Anita

Contributed by Anita van Dam – a Global Ambassador

Since the beginning of this Year I have started working at a zoo in Kerkrade, Netherlands, called the Gaia Park. I go there once a week when possible where I work with the primates, for example cleaning the cage, creating recreational activities and making their food and feeding them.

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As a member of the EAG (Environment Action Group) in the school, we collaborated with IKEA for them to switch off all their lights during Earth Hour to raise awareness. I was the supervisor for the group and we also handed out leaflets to costumers and told them about the event and asked them to participate.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour

During my holiday, I bumped into Nancy Gibson* from the Love Wildlife Foundation. She and a few others were heading for a meeting to talk about the opening of the New Dolphinarium in Phuket and so I asked to join in. Below is a link to a rerun on the Phuket News TV about the event.

*Nancy Gibson will feature on a post under speakers soon
Anita and Nancy in Phuket

Anita and Nancy in Phuket

Anita meeting with the Love Wildlife team in Phuket

Anita meeting with the Love Wildlife team in Phuket

I am now in Direct contact with the people there and will be raising awareness in the Netherlands and the other United World Colleges in attempt to make this international.
Making Thai krathongs

Making Thai krathongs

I attended project week where I went to Poland with 5 other students to work with an organisation called Siemacha who work with children who need help in studies or whose parents do not have time to take care of them. Here I led a session where I taught the students about Thailand and had an activity where I taught them how to make krathongs.
The International Fair

The International Fair

Another event that I joined was the International Fair where I had my own Thai stand with pictures and items from Thailand as well as cooking some Thai dishes such as fried rice, rice with Thai omelette, kao man kai and sweet pork shred with sticky rice. I also participated in the international fashion show.
Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

I also participated in Storytelling Bakery where we learned how to make cupcakes as well as decorate them. We had a story attached to each cupcake that related to each other and had the cupcakes decorated to match the story.
MUN in Italy

MUN in Italy

I have also participated in an MUN conference in Italy with the school United World College Adriatic. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. I made many new friends as well as learned the procedures while also getting to see the city. The topics were against me therefore I had to work harder and make my points strong in order to protect my country (India) which was being accused of things we had not done.
Thanks for the update Anita and good luck with your studies in your final year of school at UWC Maarstricht. Please keep us posted with your progress and achievements.  
The GC Award Team.
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