How to Become a Global Citizen: World Affairs Council Visits the International Community School

Why is it important to be a globally competent citizen? How can you engage with the world and understand different cultures and perspectives?  What does it mean to be a Foreign Service Officer? These are just a few of the questions that Seattle University Professor Tom Taylor and Ambassador Roger Meece addressed during a presentation at the International Community School (ICS)’s first Student Summit on September 10, 2015.IMG_5176

Professor Taylor started the Global Awareness Program at Seattle University and is chair of the History department. He began the morning by asking students about the world’s demographics. “In my lifetime, the population has tripled,” he noted. Why is this significant? Because as the world population grows, we become increasingly interconnected and it’s important to understand people and the places they come from in order to work together towards a better future. Whether you work in software engineering, human resources, or foreign policy, there’s a good chance you’ll communicate or collaborate with someone in another country. Taylor also emphasized the value of learning another language and traveling with the intention of learning, whether it’s around the world or right here in Seattle’s diverse neighborhoods.

Next, Ambassador Roger Meece provided students with an inside look at the life of a Foreign Service Officer. He described the various positions held throughout his career, beginning as a Peace Corps IMG_5186volunteer in Sierra Leone and joining the State Department in 1979. Students journeyed to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through his photos of Lake Kivu, stories of meeting with locals and other diplomats, and images of internally displace person (IDP) camps. Meece was appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as the UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) – the largest UN peacekeeping force in the world – from 2010 to 2013. Ambassador Meece further emphasized the importance of being knowledgeable about the world and going beyond the news headlines to understand an issue or event.

The goal of the new Student Summit at ICS is to empower students to be civically engaged and be college and career ready while building community awareness. In addition to hearing from expert speakers, ICS students participated in service-learning at local organizations including Northwest Harvest and Solid Ground and traveled to a local ropes course to enhance teambuilding.  Lis Christiansen, International Community School counselor and a key organizer of the summit, says “I want them to understand the importance of getting involved in local politics and see the connections policy has to their lives and to the larger global community….the World Affairs Council is a perfect fit for us!”

The International Community School (ICS) is a public school in the Lake Washington School District born of community action where parents and educators came together in 1997 to create and support a small, academically rigorous secondary education program with a strong focus on international awareness. ICS maintains extremely high academic standards while providing continuous study in six core academic areas: humanities, international studies, art, science, mathematics and a foreign language with nearly 100% of students moving onto higher education.