While it has severely restricted our movement, the ongoing pandemic underscores the importance of global citizenship — the idea that our rights and responsibilities are derived from and tied to our common (and global) humanity. As the world awaits a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, it is hard to overlook the significance of cross-cultural and cross-border collaborations among scientists, policy-makers, corporations and individuals who are thinking creatively, sharing ideas and trying to solve a global issue that has deeply impacted most (if not all) of mankind. So, now more than ever, it is imperative that we, as educators, try our very best to help develop global citizens who not only understand but also apply diverse perspectives into their decision-making and problem-solving processes.
As global travel is on pause for now, the focus of Ravenscroft’s global programs is on taking our global learning experiences online. This year, we established a virtual exchange in our Upper School Mandarin classes with Banqiao Senior High School in Taipei, Taiwan. Mandarin teacher Yi-Wen Liu has implemented lesson plans and activities that provide her students opportunities to engage in cross-cultural conversations with their Taiwanese peers. The two groups exchange video recordings and online comments in their respective target languages and discuss topics related to various features of their cultures.
In the same vein, Honors Digital Media for Global Learning, a new interdisciplinary course in the Upper School, allows students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals while virtually connecting with experts working to address housing and infrastructure needs in rural Tanzania. These real-world connections allow students to go beyond theoretical concepts and cultivate empathy as they understand multiple perspectives and geographical contexts of any global issue.
Curriculum-based virtual exchanges set the foundation for meaningful and long-term partnerships that have the potential to grow into in-person exchanges. Thus, virtual programming is not a substitute for travel but a critical component of global education that will help students develop cultural agility to communicate and collaborate effectively while expanding their understanding of the larger world.
Looking forward, our global program offerings will continue to provide opportunities for students to engage with people and places, both virtually and in-person. The hiatus from our school-sponsored travel programs this year has given us the opportunity to refine Ravenscroft’s Global Education Mission and Vision statement and articulate global competencies that are intricately woven into our Lead from Here framework. This statement will help our community develop a shared understanding of global education and its goals. It will also guide us in building competency-based curriculum and programming that emphasize student leadership and global citizenship — both of which are pivotal to help prepare students to thrive in a complex and interdependent (post-pandemic) world.