This is her story:
As the coordinator of a program that matches teachers in different countries for collaboration, I have spent years trying to navigate the waters of educational lingo, global collaboration best practices, and project based learning theories.
Essentially, I have attempted to virtually integrate myself into a world that is quite unlike the office I actually sit in. I tweet, I share on Facebook, I keep a list of my favorite hashtags, and I have a schedule of the most useful Twitter chats to join.
Why do I do this?
Because I believe that connecting people of different countries and cultures, so that they may learn about one another, is the best way to create peace.
And why not start with children?
Teachers who have participated in People to People International’s School & Classroom Program tell me that their students never cared about their grammar as much as they did when they were an ambassador of their country, introducing themselves to their new pen pals.
They tell me that when they held a video conference with their partner class, their students were amazed to learn that they are more similar than different.
They tell me that collaborations like this are knocking down barriers of prejudice and building strong connections between their students. Giving students an authentic audience for their work is both a motivator and a source of engagement.
How do we connect?
Teachers in the School & Classroom Program are matched with a partner classroom that has a similar number of pupils of similar age. We also consider communication and country preferences. The program is offered at no cost. Our aim is to link like-minded educators and their students.
If we can motivate youth to think about respect, peaceful relations, and global concerns when they are young, we may help them become the type of thinkers and leaders we need when they are adults.
One of our most successful projects within the program is the Global Youth Murals project. Each year we invite students to create artwork that represents their community, friendship, and their thoughts on our motto “Peace through Understanding”.
You can find galleries of the murals on PTPI’s Facebook page. Combining traditional research with art and action components helps reach different styles of learners/multiple intelligences.
Over the last 11 years, we are fortunate to have served over 3,000 educators with 200,000 students in 124 countries. We look forward to working with extraordinary teachers for years to come.
In the words of our founder, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so bad that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”
My wish is that each teacher has an opportunity to take learning beyond curriculum and testing – beyond the four walls of their classroom – and show their students this wide world.
And like Paige at PTPI, we’re trying to make this wish a reality.