A Journey of Many Firsts (#globalclassroom Chats – April 13/14)

Cape Town from Table Mountain at Night, South Africa, July, 2001

The author’s journey to Cape Town, South Africa in 2001 included this “first:” being stuck on Table Mountain, at night, in winter, with no mobile phone, having missed the final tram car off the summit. Good times.

In honor of Michael Graffin’s first international trip abroad to Doha, Qatar this July, it seemed timely to suggest that the April #GlobalClassroom Chat theme be, A Journey of Many Firsts.

My iEARN colleagues around the world have spent the past 25 years focusing on helping teachers and students begin their first journeys into global classroom collaboration. The iEARN annual conferences and youth summits are attended by many, like Michael, who have never traveled abroad or worked on global online projects. The impact of this journey can be profound. Here is a student who travelled to Cape Town, South Africa for the iEARN Youth Summit in 2001:

Last summer was a Journey of Many Firsts thanks to receiving the Debra Kurshan iEARN Scholarship. After winning half a scholarship to attend the IEARN Youth Summit Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, my life changed forever. It changed my life in a way that I never dreamed possible before. It’s hard to say, but it is like I have moved to a higher level in my life. I’ve worked so hard to accomplish so many goals in my life that this was a reward for all my efforts.I never realized that winning this scholarship would be so much fun and give me the opportunity to experience so many “firsts.”

Some of the first experiences for me are the following:

  • first plane ride
  • first time I knew there was cold weather in Africa
  • first time seeing wild animals including the cheetah, penguins, and seals
  • first time seeing a modern mall in Africa, I always thought people lived in huts
  • first time seeing a Township and the poverty that went along with living under those conditions
  • first time seeing two oceans meet and mountains covered with clouds
  • first time meeting and talking with a boy who was a “Child Soldier”
  • first time meeting and sharing time with kids from 23 different countries
  • first boat ride and trip to Robyn Island the prison where Nelson Mandela stayed
  • first time working with a group of kids from around the world on an Environmental Project
  • first time attending a Global Conference with teachers and students from 70 different countries and making a presentation at the closing ceremony
  • first time raising funds to cover expenses for a trip
  • first time getting a passport

When school started I encouraged my classmates to get involved with the IEARN Learning Circles Computer Chronicles project. We communicated with other kids from Belarus, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Jersey, Miami, and Botswana. These projects connect us to the world by the Internet…I think this trip made me a better person and I am able to connect with people better from a variety of different cultures. I realize that I am one person but I can make an important difference in the lives of others.


Can groups of kids work together on environmental projects for the first time without ever being in the same room?

We understand that travel is impossible for 99.99% of the iEARN network (and the vast majority of teachers and students worldwide), and each conference participant represents thousands of others who will need to rely upon virtual, rather than face-to-face, interaction to begin their journeys of firsts. But is this possible? Can activities like #MysterySkype and monthly chats like #GlobalClassroom help educators and students begin their journeys towards greater global awareness? Are profound international experiences only possible for a small percentage of travelers? Are groups of kids able to work together on environmental projects for the first time without ever being in the same place?

I like Anne Mirtschin’s eloquent thoughts in this post last January:

There was a time … I thought that:

  • Christmas was celebrated by Christians across the world on the same day – 25th December
  • New Year occurred for all on the 1st January each year
  • All countries experience four seasons
  • School years started and finished on the same dates globally
  • Education was a right that all should and do experience

Now, through an amazing global professional network that spans countries across the world from developed to developing countries, across hemispheres, time zones, geographical barriers, language difficulties, ideologies, etc that my knowledge, understanding, perception and experience of the world is through the ‘eyes’, experiences, feelings and passions of those who live there. Empathy, tolerance, compassion and a deeper appreciation of what the world is about, why it is what it is and an ever increasing acceptance that the majority of global citizens want peace, happiness, a healthy world – a world featuring tolerance, empathy and generosity to those who have less.

Some questions for Twitter chat participants this April:

What global awareness “firsts” have you had as part of a global classroom collaboration – either as a participant, or leader?

Have you had a global awareness “first” as part of this Twitter chat?

Are virtual exchanges able to result in, “empathy, tolerance, compassion and a deeper appreciation of what the world is about”?

Chat Schedule

Chat 1 ~ Saturday, April 13th, 10:00 – 11:00 UTC

  • 11:00 London, 12:00 (noon) Cape Town, 15:30 New Delhi, 18:00 Perth, 20:00 Sydney, 22:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 2 ~ Saturday, April 13th, 18:00 – 19:00 UTC

  • 11:00 Los Angeles, 14:00 New York, 19:00 London, 20:00 Cape Town, 06:00 SUNDAY – Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 3 ~ Sunday, April 14th, 01:00 – 02:00 UTC (Saturday in N & S America!)

  • Saturday night – 18:00 Los Angeles, 21:00 New York
  • Sunday – 06:30 New Dehli, 09:00 Perth, 11:00 Sydney, 13:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.


Cape Town Conference Faces

“an ever increasing acceptance that the majority of global citizens want peace, happiness, a healthy world “


3 thoughts on “A Journey of Many Firsts (#globalclassroom Chats – April 13/14)

  1. I wanted to make sure you are aware of our Groups4Schools community to support Global Classroom initiatives such as yours. https://theglobalclassroomproject.wordpress.com/page/3/

    As a Global Classroom Supporter we provide virtual space to connect GC educators while at the same time providing them with the ability to create their own groups to work with students and other educators on their specific projects. If you need web meeting, video notes, conferencing calling, discussion boards and a multitude of other resources all in one secure, private space Groups4Schools might be of assistance. Visit http://groups4schools.wiggiosites.com/group_open_join.php?groupid=1500641&password=global&ref=1203336 for more information.

    Accessing this Groups gives you access to other Global Classroom participants but to support your own projects you just need to “create” a new Group for your own purposes and off you go. Your students and classes will have access to all the same resources in as the GC on their own private space.

    Please contact me if you have any questions…

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