encouraging young people to become better global citizens
Award coordinator Ginny Bineypal sent through a report on the school’s first year of the Award.
“The International Class is a group of 23 students between 16 and 17 years old. It is the closest we have to pre IB. Many of these students have lived and studied abroad, and are interested in joining the International Baccalaureate program offered here at the school.
The school has decided to include (our own) course called Meet the World as a part of the syllabus for the class – a one year course - and to make the IGC Award the framework for our weekly Meet the World meetings. The course is compulsory in terms of attendance, but no marks or grades are awarded at the end of the year. The main goal behind the course is to instil global awareness and responsibility.
The Meet the World course has primarily had a twofold focus; cultural and environmental: We meet every week for two lessons (90 minutes). The students maintain a weekly log in order to keep track of the issues we discuss, and record their reflections.
Every time we meet the students engage in activities that promote action and reflection. Each week students take the responsibility to prepare group and individual presentations about cultural and/or environmental issues that impact Norway and the world, each such presentation is followed by class discussions and reflection.
The second part of the lessons is dedicated to action, where the students collect plastic bottles from all over school and recycle them. Depending on the size of the bottle, they can earn one to two Norwegian crowns per bottle.
The main focus for the students however has been a Project called the Bangladesh Project. This is a small project run by Oslo International Rotary Club and supports five Bangladeshi students through three years of their university education. This project has a twofold focus for the students; raising money for students in Bangladesh, and doing it through the environmentally friendly method of recycling plastic bottles (mentioned earlier). I am happy to report that the students have raised a sum of 2000 NOK by recycling bottles at the school, and will continue to do so until the end of the school year. The money has been received by the students in Bangladesh.
The students also recently organized a Meet the World event here at the school, where parents were invited and informed about the various projects that the students have been involved in this school year. The students were able to raise NOK 3335, which they have decided to divide between supporting two causes, the Bangladesh Project and buying goats for poor families through an organization called Kirkens Nødshjelp.”
Here is some further information Ginny provided to answer some questions.
How do you cover the more individual and personal aspects of lifestyle that will vary from individual to individual, and the impact that an individual’s lifestyle has upon the environment and others?
Individual’s Impact on Environment:
We have had several class discussions about how each one of us impacts our environment, and what we can do as individuals to change things. The students have taken on-line surveys that give them an idea about how much waste each one of them creates, and also how many ‘slaves’ are probably working for them http://slaveryfootprint.org/ depending on their choices when buying clothes, and other commodities. The idea is to create self-awareness about their individual choices. Many of them are very conscious about where they buy their clothes and shoes. Others make sure their families recycle at home. Yet others keep themselves updated about the Norwegian government’s policies regarding environmental issues, and share their thoughts with others in class.
Individual’s Impact on Cultural Environment:
The students have also had many discussions about social issues such as freedom of expression and immigration. Many of the students have very strong views about such issues, as they are a regularly featured in the media here in Norway.
Each time we discuss such issues, the students are required to follow a three step process:
Step one, reflect on why they feel so strongly about an issue;
Step two, Ensure they have been responsible while gathering information that supports their perspective.
And last but not least, they are required to respect the other’s opinion regardless of how strongly they disagree with them.
At the end of each discussion they evaluate how well they did regarding the three step process.
Other information on Understanding other Outlooks and Cultures in the Meet the World course
Several Norwegian students in the international class have lived and studied abroad, for example, in countries such as Brazil, Bangladesh, Lebanon and China. I too have lived and worked in several countries (S Korea, Canada, England and India). We explore this diversity of experiences by sharing with each other what we have learned that is similar and/or different from our own cultures. We have talked about issues such as arranged marriage, gender roles, and female foeticide. Food and cultures within schools have also been discussed. These lessons have been very educational, and have been greatly appreciated by the students.
An example of the execution of this is as follows:
1. Students are divided into groups of 3 to 4, they are then asked to prepare a presentation about a relevant topic, for example, gender roles.
2. They pick a country of their choice, and do research about the relevant topic and present their findings to the rest of the class. (They are encouraged to engage someone who has lived in the country they have chosen to work with).
3. Each such presentation is followed by a round of questions and a short discussion.
Last year the students attended an event organized by Plan Norge https://www.plan-norge.no/english about child marriage and its consequences. They were asked to write their reflections about the topic and a class discussion was organized. The Bangladesh Project mentioned above has also given the students the opportunity to learn and reflect. The students have had the opportunity to talk with the Bangladeshi students on Skype, and ask them direct questions about their lives and choices.
Recording and reflecting
At our school we use a digital platform called its learning. I have used this platform to have students maintain a weekly log. The main purpose of the log is to make sure the students have reflected on the issues and topics we have covered on a weekly basis. Entries are submitted each week; these logs are kept on file, and will be used next year to guide students who will start the Meet the World course.
Mentoring and future developments
We are also thinking of starting a mentor program for the soon to be ex Meet the World students, which will start next year. If some students want, they can become mentors for the new batch of students. This way they can keep working with the Global Citizenship Award (silver level) and also get points for CAS in 2IB. We have not yet worked out the details, but we are on it.
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