Countdown 2011: Number Three-Project Explorer

2011 has been a year of discovery on a lot of fronts. This year has taken me from Brooklyn to Kansas City, MO to visit family, to deep in the heart of Texas to support Dr. Brown at her dissertation defense, to England for a seminar on race in the US, to Istanbul for cultural exploration with a good friend, to Paris for some “me time,” and to MIA for even more “me time!” Traveling to all of these locales has afforded me with many memorable moments. So join me as I countdown my top five travel memories of 2011!

Number Three: Project Explorer/Global Citizenship

Do you consider yourself a citizen of the world? What does a global citizen look like? I begin my 9th grade social studies course with these questions every year to a group of inquisitive, yet timid students. Many claim no one has ever asked them these questions so they never really have had to think about their place in the context of the world. Project Explorer, an organization that I work with yearly to help students grapple with this question, has made it its mission to help all generations to take global citizenship seriously.

Project Explorer has used online media to help students and families at home learn about countries and cultures around the world while incorporating social studies, English, science, math, and foreign language curriculum to its many videos. Having traveled from Thailand to Petra to Costa Rica, I use its Yebo, South Africa! series to teach students about the country and to learn about the anti-apartheid movement used to dismantle de jure oppression and discrimination. My students have been fortunate enough to visit with Ms. Jenny Buccos, Project Explorer’s Director, Producer, and Series Creator, to hear her speak about apartheid, the transition the country has made since this system was outlawed, and about traveling in general. Through our working relationship, she has become a friend and a great role model and inspiration of what it means to be a global citizen for me.

I was fortunate enough to share my experiences working with Project Explorer over the course of this year. I was honored to give remarks at the relaunch of Yebo, South Africa! in February at the South African Consulate’s office in Manhattan. You can read my remarks and check out pictures from the event here!

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Presenting my remarks at the relaunch event in February 2011. Photograph courtesy of Project Explorer.

We also were covered by BRIC Brooklyn Independent Television about the impact the organization is having in the classroom in April. As an educator, this is really great to see students asking critical questions while wrestling with these sometimes abstract concept of global citizenship because it is not immediately in front of them. You can check out the students, Jenny, and me and my teaching skills here!

With Project Explorer making its mission to develop and inspire global citizens at all ages, it has definitely allowed me to continue to think about my professional and personal place in the world. Through the Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellowship, I was introduced to Dr. Tony Wagner’s work on global education which falls in line with Project Explorer’s work and my evolving teaching philosophy. He argues that our current education system in our country is not preparing anyone to be globally competitive upon graduation. Feel free to read Wagner’s thoughts on a 21st century education.

As I continue to think, revise curriculum, and talk with educators, family, and friends, I keep these ideas and issues in mind in hopes that we are all helping to prepare this generation and beyond to interact with people from around the world while cultivating life long learning about the world in which they live.

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