Friday, March 20, 2015

Global Enthusiasm Revealed at Summit

By Benson Gardner, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Original post at DPI-ConnectEd on March 19, 2015
So engaging are international topics — for a significant population of Wisconsin students — many had to be turned away from the third annual Wisconsin Global Youth Summit in Madison last month.

traditional dance
Students at this year’s event saw performances of Eisa -- a folk dance from Ryukyu (Okinawa), Japan, which incorporates taiko drumming and martial arts -- as well as South African gumboot dance, learning about cultural connections. They also met international university students and discussed global citizenship. Pictured is Anaguma Eisa, UW-Madison's Okinawan Taiko Club. Photo: Angela Bublitz, for the UW-Madison Division of International Studies

Gerhard Fischer, DPI international education consultant, feels the growing popularity of this event confirms that there is “enthusiasm for global learning” among Wisconsin students.
“I mean, 170 kids on a Saturday, for a full day? They don’t do that unless something interests them.”
And some students “may not even know yet that they’re interested” in international education if they haven’t experienced it very often, Fischer says.
Fischer says the Department of Public Instruction and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which jointly organize the summit, had to cap attendance because of limitations on the time of volunteers needed to make the event run.

Teachers working at a table with a newsprint sheet on which is handwritten the title, 'What Comptencies shoudl students demonstrate through Cultural Literacy'. Below are various sticky notes in a variety of colors.
Approximately 65 Wisconsin teachers -- who brought the students -- met separately to talk about ways they could implement programming in their schools and classrooms that helps students achieve the Wisconsin Global Education Achievement CertificatePhoto: Angela Bublitz, for the UW-Madison Division of International Studies.

Students also met in small groups to talk about how to increase global awareness in their own communities. Kerry G. Hill of the UW-Madison Division for International Studies reports these “key themes emerged”:
  • More academic opportunities to learn international languages, arts, culture, and sports, as well as non-American viewpoints in history and global issues.
  • Boost global appreciation through new and existing organizations and events. Learn through cultural food events.
  • Connect more through exchanges, pen pals, Skype, sister city partnerships, guest speakers, and collaborations with other students.
  • Service projects, such as to teach languages to younger students, or to assist international populations, locally or worldwide.
  • Visiting culturally diverse places, whether nearby -- like mosques, synagogues, museums, and ethnic restaurants – or abroad through service projects.
  • More statewide conferences, like the Global Youth Summit, to help more students connect with like-minded peers, and perhaps take on collaborative projects.
Global competency, Fischer says, is “all about understanding different perspectives and where different people are coming from. Different folks in different parts of the world approach ... problems differently.”
He emphasizes that global learning is a method of student engagement that should be woven into other subject areas.
“It’s not an add-on, it is an approach to learning that should be natural. So as a science teacher if I don’t occasionally reference the real natural world beyond Lake Superior maybe I’m not doing it right. If as an economics teacher I’m not talking about the global economy, maybe I’m not doing my job. So, not, ‘Create a new course,’ just, ‘Work it in to what you’re doing.’ Teachers and students should routinely consider the global scope of various concepts, whenever it's relevant."

Yellow notepaper folded by a participant into an origami crane
Photo: Angela Bublitz, for the UW-Madison Division of International Studies

Friday, March 13, 2015

Wisconsin Global Youth Summit generates ideas for raising global awareness

Incorporating international news reports into school-wide announcements, having high school students give language lessons to elementary students, and hosting international dinners for the community are among the ideas for increasing global awareness offered by high school students at the 2015 Wisconsin Global Youth Summit.
The Wisconsin Global Youth Summit brought approximately 170 students from more than 35 high schools across Wisconsin, accompanied by more than 60 teachers, to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on Saturday, February 28, for a day of sessions aimed at promoting their growth as global citizens.
The summit was co-sponsored by the UW–Madison Division of International Studies and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Participating UW–Madison units include the Wisconsin International Scholars (WISc) Program, International Reach (International Student Services), Language Institute, and the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC).
These sessions were designed:
  • To encourage students to think about themselves and the world around them.
  • To broaden their perspectives through contacts with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • To have them recognize that being internationally engaged can be fun and exciting.
Students at the summit are introduced to a variety of languages.
Students at the summit are introduced to a variety of languages. (Photo: Angela Bublitz)
Over the course of the day, the students interacted with members of the UW-Madison community –domestic and international students and staff, who all share strong interests in increasing cross-cultural awareness and engagement.
The high school students learned about South African gumboot dancing, discussed global citizenship, and interacted with individuals from the university’s international community.
Most of the participating students made it clear that they already were well on their way to becoming global citizens. Based on a show of hands, most are studying other languages, know individuals from other countries, possess passports and have traveled outside of the United States.
In addition to providing encouragement and inspiration, the summit also enabled students to speak with a collective voice. While their teachers discussed ways to enhance international education in a separate session next door, the students met in small groups to generate their own ideas for increasing global awareness in their schools and communities.
And they had plenty to say. Some key themes emerged:
Strengthen academics: They called for more opportunities to learn languages – including self-study of languages not offered by their schools – and to study other culturally focused subjects, such as sociology, anthropology, global issues, arts and literature from other cultures, history from a non-American viewpoint, and physical education with more internationally popular sports.
Boost global appreciation through organizations and events: They see new and existing school clubs as another means to promote global awareness, such as Model UN, international/global connections, world events, culture, and languages. Such organizations could host school-sponsored events such as cultural fairs, international days, and foreign films showings, open to the community. Creating an honor society for global awareness could provide recognition students who excel in their pursuit of international interests.
Eat and learn: Cultural cuisine could be featured through picnics and potlucks, meals served at school, and items sold for fund-raising. This could even be extended into the community, such as hosting an “international dinner” or delivering special meals to people in need.
Connect more, locally and globally: Students – individually or through organizations or classes – can become more globally aware by interacting more with exchange students, connecting with pen pals, Skyping with peers in other countries, bringing speakers on international topics into schools, getting involved with sister cities and other partnerships, and developing collaborative teams and projects with their peers in other school districts.
Use service projects as a vehicle: They suggested organizing “language days,” in which high school students, for academic or volunteer credit, teach languages lessons to younger students. Other approaches to service include engaging in projects that benefit local ethnic/immigrant residents, and raising funds to support international causes.
Go places, near and far: They suggested taking school trips to culturally diverse places nearby, such as mosques, synagogues, museums, and ethnic restaurants; going abroad on service projects that would require language immersion, such as students in Spanish doing volunteer work in Guatemalan orphanages; and advertising opportunities and raising funds for study abroad.
Bring more like-minded students together: They called for more statewide conferences, like the Global Youth Summit, so that more students can connect with like-minded peers around the state, and perhaps take on collaborative projects.
– by Kerry G. Hill
Students at the summit interact with members of UW-Madison's international community. (Photo: Angela Bublitz)
Students at the summit interact with members of UW-Madison’s international community. (Photo: Angela Bublitz)

More from the 2015 Wisconsin Global Youth Summit:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Yes, We Can Educate Globally Competent Students.

Fiscal realities in our schools make it difficult to add important elements in the curriculum. It is increasingly hard for small districts to hire world language teachers and extend the sequence of language learning for students. There is no way Wisconsin students can compete with peers from most advanced countries who begin their third world language in ninth grade.

Yet, students and teachers in our schools actively ask for the exciting opportunity to learn more about the world. They are hungry for those learning experiences, and they engage whenever they can. Imagine 170 students attending the 2015 Wisconsin Global Youth Summit on a cold Saturday in February. Imagine 65 of their teachers joining a full-day workshop while their students participated in exciting global learning opportunities. All of them gave up a free Saturday; all of them were engaged all day long. The teachers did not get extra pay or compensation for their time. This is the power of engaging students and teachers in global learning activities and in an exciting day of events. And this is what makes me feel a slight sense of optimism in an otherwise very challenging educational environment. This is also evidence of many teachers doing more with less.

Teaching students essential literacy and mathematical skills is absolutely necessary, and it is a bottom line requirement. That does not mean that we cannot reach higher and engage students in learning about the real world in which they live. They need authentic learning experiences, they need to understand what they are studying for. They need to understand that inquiry, curiosity and learning knows no boundaries. They need to know that solutions to problems and ways to improve living conditions are global issues. If our students do not learn about other points of view, they are not given an opportunity to think critically.

The 2015 Wisconsin Global Youth Summit was every bit as inspiring and uplifting as previous summits. The number of interested students, teachers and schools is growing rapidly.
Take a look at the schedule of events at

Yes, we can educate globally competent students who will engage in interesting careers and the construction of civil societies in the very near future. This is an exciting prospect for Wisconsin.