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So What is Global Citizenship?

by Steve Smith, October 26, 2005

An earthquake rocks Pakistan; survivors languish without aid. The people of Iraq vote on a new constitution while suicide bombers unleash terror on the voters. Poultry farmers in Asia slaughter their flocks. What’s this got to do with the price of Halloween costumes in Rutland?

The new buzz word around high school and university education these days is “Global Citizen”. It refers to the need to instill a perspective in youth and young adults that will allow them to see beyond their local boundaries. Events from half-way around the world are brought immediately to our television and computer screens, and their impact on our lives is immediate:

  • that earthquake in Pakistan means higher taxes for Canadians, as our government dips deeper into its disaster relief fund;
  • the political constitution in Iraq means more jobs in BC, since the US needs international support for its strange foreign policy, thus allowing Paul Martin to talk tough to Condoleeza Rice about unfair soft-wood lumber policies; a new virus among chickens in Asia will affect education in Canada as our government prepares for a potential Flu Epidemic, shifting funds from education and other areas to health care.

This is what we mean when we say we are living in a “Global Village”, or that made-in-China costumes from Value Village are part of the ‘Global Economy’. It’s critical that we equip students to understand and function in this suddenly shrinking world. We do this by educating them to be Global Citizens.

This week, our Grade and 11 and 12 classes will take part in an all day workshop designed to create awareness of the need for Global Citizenship. This conference is sponsored by the United Nations and will include participation from all local high schools. The students will hear speakers on International Development and International Relations, and will participate in round-table discussions. The documents the students create will be use to help UN youth organizers to better understand how to increase the participation of young people in international relations.

But at Heritage Christian School, we go way beyond talking about Global Citizenship. In May this school year, we will take our Grade 11 and 12 students on an amazing educational and cultural learning expedition to Puerto Escondido, Mexico. For an entire month, these students will learn Spanish, study Mexican culture, and participate in the construction of an addition onto Puerto Escondido’s School for the Disabled. When they return, they will be more aware of their place in the Global Village, and more prepared to get actively involved in it.

Like our extremely successful on-line school, the Heritage Mexico program is on the cutting-edge of educational trends. If you have a student in high school, the time to start preparing for this amazing educational opportunity is now. Currently, the cost for this program is $2,400, which includes not only educational costs and contributions to the construction project, but travel, accommodations, and food. By planning for this in Grade 9 or 10, parents will find this cost far more manageable than waiting until Grade 11. I also encourage you to support this year’s students by attending one or more of the fundraisers that they will host, the first of which is the auction advertised in this newsletter.

Steve Smith