To be a human is to connect. Last year Mary Beth Heffernan empathized with African Ebola patients’ feelings of detachment. The healthcare workers’ protective suits prevented the patients from seeing the carer’s faces. This Los Angeles artist thought of a solution; perhaps attaching the worker’s photographed face to their suits might help the patients. Through networking with medical experts and international authorities, Heffernan traveled to West Africa with the photo-printing equipment. Her simple act of providing the doctors and nurses’ smiling portraits brought back the human connection to these patients. Thus, her story illustrates that individuals can make a profound difference to the lives of others even though they are miles apart.
Like Mary Beth Heffernan, our curriculum helps our students learn to take initiative as global citizens. We want our students to have a good understanding of our world and to take action, big or small, towards improving our society. Our curriculum achieves this by having our students participate in projects extending beyond our school community. In short, we believe that by teaching our students to think globally, they can impact the local community and beyond.
Thinking globally starts with our youngest learners. For instance, our Grade One teacher Hamorn Lau uses video conferencing to connect her students with children from other countries. Through a global project, originating from Jena Ball’s book “Not the Perfect Hat Club”, Ms. Lau’s class interacts with the author and other schools from Australia and New Zealand. In addition to the book’s character development lessons, our young AIS students are gaining a global awareness through this international exchange.
Furthermore global thinking helps our students take local action. Middle school teacher Laura Kaufman attests to the value of applying global awareness to community change. As a Humanities teacher, Ms. Kaufman explains that world history often brings about multiple perspectives with its related concerns. However traditional teaching restricts students’ exploration for these issues in the modern context. Ms. Kaufman addresses this gap by having her Grade 8 students participate in a year-long community service project. Through the charity organization Handson Hong Kong, students volunteer by helping support local campaigns related to the environment, the elderly or healthcare/hygiene. Some of their volunteer work includes preparing and delivering lunch boxes for the elderly, recycling soap, and cleaning up the beach. Indeed these community relationships are powerful part of our curriculum.
Connectivity is about bringing people’s histories together as a way to improve lives. For our students to remain current, their solutions to problems, ideas, and dreams must be part of the local and wider population’s story. AIS helps our students network and learn how they can contribute to the greater society. Without doubt, the small accounts told by our students today will add to the grander narrative of change for tomorrow.
From AIS Eagle-i