Learning about the whole, wide world

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2003

Let's encourage the citizens of Juneau to be aware of global issues and conditions. It is important that our students understand world events, recognize the impact of international issues, and acknowledge the relationships among cultures. Our young people benefit from being taught to show respect for others while being curious and friendly.

Being globally aware is about people. Our town has an abundance of fascinating characters. When we ask about their travels, where they've lived, what they know about their grandparents, we learn about a multitude of places. Remember that travelers, military veterans and exchange students have great stories to tell. Reach out to the people you sit by and live near.

Being globally aware is about learning. When we read about migrating birds, we can go a bit further to learn about the places they are going to. By contrasting our surroundings with other places, we know more about both. With practice and confidence, you can learn to speak and read languages besides the one(s) you know now. Maps are wonderful devices for prompting curiosity and for seeing details.

Being globally aware is about economic activity. People from around the world come to Juneau to visit or to work. Welcoming them means we need to be polite and to be seen as polite. As all of us humans work towards common goals of justice, safety and high levels of literacy and numeracy, we need to work together effectively. What we export has to suit the people we ship to and what we import is what someone, somewhere else has made and packaged.

Being globally aware means getting along. More of us than ever before have the chance to travel freely. With the World Wide Web, you can chat and write around the world as easily as you speak over the back fence. International issues affect us directly.

So, learning to be globally aware is worthwhile. It's fun, it's learning and it's the decent thing to do. The future will bring more and more human interactions across borders. Politics, culture and economics have increasingly important global dimensions. This learning will help our children find satisfying roles in the world of tomorrow.

Here are some steps you can take:

Learn from others. Many small towns in France have informative signs near their boundaries which proudly proclaim the Sister City connection. I wonder if we in Juneau might post signs at the ferry terminal, the cruise docks, the airport and in city hall.

Listen. Ask where an event in the news is happening. Read the notes to learn from what language a story was translated. Track down the source of the food you eat or the clothing you wear. Choose a type of traditional music and listen to it regularly.

Study. Memorize geographic facts. Learn to draw a map of a continent or the whole world. Read four novels set in a particular country. Participate in the geography bee.

Join other people. Be part of what's going on in Juneau, including Sister City visits, Rotary and AFS exchanges, performances and exhibitions by visiting artists, and World Affairs Council events.

Take the next step as a parent, as a student, as a citizen to learn about the world!

•Anne Fuller is a student of education and gatherer of stories. She travels most often by reading library books.



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