Reflections | Connecting the Local to Global: IVLP Alumni in the Classroom 2022
November 17th, 2022 12:00PM -12:00AM
While Global Classroom has always worked to empower educators, students, and community members with tools, knowledge, and perspectives to engage in global studies, cultivate 21st century skills, and foster meaningful connections, locally and globally, the feedback that we’ve received from our teacher leaders and students during the pandemic has invoked a deeper “call to action” reflective of the circumstances they are currently experiencing. Over the past couple of years Global Classroom has worked diligently to secure grants that allow us to support educators in their professional development at no cost to them. Our programming has centered voices and topics often overlooked in discourse related to global current events and international relations including but not limited to the following workshops: Social and Emotional Learning: Culturally Responsive Teaching, The Arctic Today: Indigenous Peoples, Climate Change, and the Environment, Empowerment and Gender Equality in the Classroom, and Reorienting Africa in the Classroom. Our Global Classroom team is working harder than ever to ensure that our programs prepare educators and students to face the challenges at the forefront of today’s rapidly changing world.
In addition to our support of educators, we have been working more directly with youth and students than we have in past years. Not only are we continuing to engage our next generation of leaders in global discourse with our annual World Citizen Essay Contest, we are also expanding our Global Competence Certificate Portfolio program to support high school Heritage Language speakers of Russian, Romanian, Ukrainian, and Spanish as they reflect on their international experiences and engagement to deepen their understanding of the world and their place in it. Additionally, Global Classroom is hosting a student-led “Career Pathways to International Relations” workshop for youth in grades 6-12 this December, and is continuing to find innovative and accessible ways to bring the world into the classroom including participation in the U.S. Department of State’s newly launched initiative, IVLP Alumni in the Classroom.
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Visitors (OIV) launched this initiative during the pandemic to facilitate global exchange and learning despite the halt of international travel and exchange. The IVLP Alumni in the Classroom initiative is an offshoot of the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). During the pandemic, leaders who had previously traveled to the U.S. through the IVLP were called upon to meet virtually with students and teachers to discuss important global issues and provide real world insight into the culture, everyday life, and personal experiences living in a particular country or region. Global Classroom piloted our very first IVLP Alumni in the Classroom visits in February/March of this year, and they were extremely successful. While we aren’t able to resolve every issue educators and students are facing during this time, this initiative has proven to be wonderful way to support educators in bringing their curriculum to life, boosting classroom morale, and providing accessible and meaningful ways for students to engage with real world perspectives, cultures, and issues that will be beneficial to them as they transition into adulthood.
Below are the meaningful experiences we have been able to facilitate in 2022 with middle and high schools in Washington State and Texas. We look forward to hosting more of our IVLP Alumni for the 2022-2023 school year!
Climate Change and Sustainability in Zambia with Ms. Chanda Mwale from Zambia
Ms. Chanda Mwale is a geographer and environmental scientist by training living and working in Lusaka, Zambia, who is passionate about the country’s natural capital. Her work has spanned private sector and civil society spaces, specializing in stakeholder engagement, lobby and advocacy, community partnerships, and collective action. On February 28th, 2022 she met with 6th grade students at Summit Trail Middle School in Maple Valley, WA to share information about Zambia, Zambian culture and everyday life. She shed light on the climate issues the country faces today in relation to flooding, drought, deforestation, and preserving wildlife. She spoke to her work in collaborating with the eight neighboring countries to preserve the Zambezi River Basin critical to the sustainability and livelihoods of the peoples of the region, and answered engaging questions from students related to “game ranching” and wildlife conservation, utilizing the country’s “natural capital” to increase sustainable economic development, indigenous and traditional knowledge in wildlife ranching, and much more.
Empowering Women and Girls in the Classroom with Ms. Linga Mihowa from Malawi
Ms. Linga Mihowa, a native of Malawi, is an accomplished and sought after development practitioner who focuses on agriculture and livelihood security, and currently serves as Country Director for Oxfam in her country. Ms. Mihowa met with 10th graders at United High School in Laredo, TX on February 28th, 2022 for a meaningful conversation on empowering women and girls in the classroom where she shared her inspiration to work for the empowerment of women and girls in part by the experience of her aunt and other female relatives from a rural area of Malawi where girls were largely denied the opportunity to be educated. This dynamic has perpetuated a cycle of women’s economic dependence on other family members that motivated Ms. Mihowa to work intersectionally on gender equality, which led to her appointment as senior advisor on gender affairs to Malawi’s first female vice-president, Joyce Banda. She spoke to challenges that women and girls face in her country that mirrored issues experienced in the U.S. such has unequal pay, discrimination, harassment, teen pregnancy, etc. and also highlighted issues that many American youth are unfamiliar with such as child marriage, lack of access to sanitary napkins and reproductive health resources, gender based violence, and more. Ms. Mihowa shared the ways in which she is working to help resolve these issues within Malawi through the lens of “African Feminism,” women’s empowerment, men’s support, and agency for women and had meaningful discourse with students on how women and girls in the U.S. can work together to change social norms.
Aerospace in Morocco: Building a Sustainable Country with Mr. Mouaad BOULAKHBAR, Dr. Sami EL MOUKHLIS, and Mr. Fassial SEHBAOUI
Dr. Sami EL MOUKHLIS began his career in civil aviation in 2002 as an Air Traffic Controller rising to his current position as Director of Management and Language Division at the Mohammed VI International Academy of Civil Aviation in Casablanca, Morocco. In this role, he is responsible for helping foster innovative entrepreneurship in the Moroccan aerospace industry. Mr. Faissal SEHBAOUI is an engineer in applied mathematics who graduated from the Ecole Centrale Lyon in 2010 and currently Managing Director of AgriEdge, a business unit operating in precision agriculture, of which he is the founder. Mr. Mouaad BOULAKHBAR is a young Moroccan innovator and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of SENERGYTK a Moroccan Tech company specializing in efficient and innovative products in energy, electric mobility, and smart grid. After graduating as a mechatronics engineer in 2018, he was nominated by King Mohamed VI as the best young innovator in Morocco, with more than four patents in the field of energy efficiency and electric mobility. Mouaad has been invited to speak at many international conferences in Germany, Canada and France.
These wonderful IVLP Alumni participated in a special Saturday morning event on March, 5th 2022 for students, educators, and community members to discuss the ways in which the Moroccan economy is especially exposed to the impacts of climate change due to its geographical location, and how it is prone more than other countries to more frequent extreme weather events, water scarcity, declining agricultural production, and rise in sea level. Each speaker provided insight into how they are utilizing space technology to combat these changes and strengthen the country's infrastructure and ecosystems, and highlighted how the aerospace sector in Morocco is leading the charge in creating innovative sustainable advancements in farming, fishing, solar energy, ports/coastal infrastructure, and more.
Promoting Social Change through the Arts with Mr. Vincent Maluwa from Malawi
Mr. Vincent Maluwa is an arts professional who serves as the Administrator for Music Crossroads Malawi, an organization that uses music to empower youth to be agents of change in their own communities. Mr. Maluwa met with 10th graders at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, WA on March 8th, 2022 to share his work with Music Crossroads Malawi hosting music festivals, competitions, and camps that incorporate open discussions about gender issues, sex, and HIV/AIDS. He shared his experience with Peace Corps Malawi in conducting the Malawi Music Project, a music camp for youth throughout Malawi. In each of these programs, Mr. Maluwa works with the participating youth to teach them the artistic and technical skills to create original music that carries positive messages related to Malawi’s pressing social issues: promoting gender empowerment, education, and HIV/AIDS prevention, and discouraging early marriage. Mr. Maluwa also shared his work supporting the Tumani Festival, which was developed and delivered by refugees and Malawians in 2014 using entertainment and artistic expression to promote intercultural harmony, mutual understanding, and peaceful co-existence. The festival is the first large-scale cultural event within a refugee camp, created and run by refugees in collaboration with the host community. The students were very engaged and had many questions about the festival in relation to funding, tourism, Covid-19 protocols, and much more.
The Importance of STEM Education for Women and Girls with Ms. Maja Mačinko from Croatia
Ms. Maja Mačinko, our most recent IVLP Alumni, is a self-taught and passionate robotics instructor motivated and inspired by her students. She is a Technology Education Teacher at the Osnovna škola primary school in Zagreb, Croatia. She is also Editor at Školska knjiga d.d. and an Academy Member at HundrED. She is one of Croatia’s STEM Revolution Ambassadors. She has a degree in physics and is working toward a PhD in informational sciences as she volunteers and creates teaching materials. Ms. Mačinko has published a number of professional and scientific papers on robotics and she wrote a primary school teacher’s manual for automation. She is the chief editor for textbooks and materials in the field of technical culture in the largest publishing house in Croatia. Ms. Mačinko met with students and educators from Glacier Peak High School and United High School on October 13, 2022 in celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11, 2022) to discuss the importance of advancing women and girls in the classroom and in STEM. During her visit she shared fun facts about the history and culture of Croatia and spoke to her personal journey navigating a career in STEM. The students had many questions for her regarding building confidence in male-dominated careers and spaces, choosing a career in STEM, fun things to do in Croatia, and more.
As a global education non-profit dedicated to advancing global understanding and cultivating enduring relationships within our local community and the world, the Global Classroom team at the World Affairs Council - Seattle is humbled to be a part of such an amazing program and is energized by the enduring commitment of teachers and students to engage in our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. We are honored to continue facilitating meaningful connections between our local schools and IVLP Alumni from around the world and hope you will join us on this journey! If you are interested in hosting an international leader in your classroom, Global Classroom will be facilitating our final visit of 2022 on Wednesday, December 7th, 2022. This visit will focus on the preservation and strengthening of democracy locally and globally. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. The deadline to participate in this visit is Friday, December 2nd. However, we will be facilitating more classroom visits with our influential IVLP Alumni in 2023!
Author: Julianna Patterson, Program Officer, Global Classroom