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A call for collaborative global education

Since its launch in 2009, the Common Core State Standards has, in an efficient manner, promoted the learning of rigorous educational content with applicable practices appropriate for any student in the nation to be successful in today’s society. Yet, it seems that society is in a perpetual state of change, where practices from seven years ago may inevitably prove to be obsolete.

Our community is becoming more and more diverse, and unfortunately, implementing rigorous content and applying effective practices is not enough to prepare students for the world we live in today, or at least not enough to have them live amicably with other people from different backgrounds. Thus, in addition to maintaining national standards, I propose integrating global collaborative education into a curriculum that intends to mold students to become better problem-solvers, while simultaneously promoting positive citizenship.

A few months ago, my wife and I left everything we had—stable jobs, family and friends, and a comfortable life — on Guam and temporarily moved to the mainland United States (specifically in the town of Pullman in Washington state) in pursuit of continuing our education in graduate school. I was fortunate enough to get hired for a teaching position at the local school district. Unsurprisingly, my first day at my new school, in my new community, was greeted with what I assumed to be good-intentioned comments and questions of curiosity from both students and fellow faculty.

“Where is Guam, anyway?”

“What language do they speak on Guam?”

And my personal favorite, “You have a very interesting accent.”

Of course, I’d be the biggest hypocrite if I took any offense to such comments. I, myself, had not heard of Pullman before my wife applied to graduate school at Washington State University. And to put it quite frankly, my knowledge of Washington State was limited to the city of Seattle and the Space Needle. I’m just as guilty for my ignorance or lack of global awareness.

Yet, this experience of ignorance strengthened my resolve for the need of global collaborative education all the more. Now, more than ever, will it be necessary to start educating our students at an early age on how to effectively communicate and collaborate with their peers from foreign communities.

The benefits of implementing global collaborative education? For one, students wouldn’t need to leave their community to be exposed to different cultures and new perspectives. Plus, aside from the positive social learning aspects, students would learn collaborative skills, technological skills, problem-solving skills — all skills that are integral in this 21st-century world.

I wouldn’t paint myself to be an optimist, but I envision a world where socio-cultural barriers are shattered, and students from different parts of the world are effectively working together to make our current society a better place to live in.

I once again come back to my current situation. I’m in my new community, yet I constantly think of my old community on Guam. But then, I also think to myself, “How great would it be if I can connect my current classroom in Pullman with a former coworker’s classroom from Guam?”

Of course, challenges and obstacles are inevitable. Students from different parts of the world, in different time zones, would be working collaboratively to complete a project and reach the same goal. But, with proper planning and the heart to educate youth for the betterment of a global society, I’m sure the results would be valuable and worthwhile.

(Richard Velasco, a former resident of Yigo, is a Ph.D. student at Texas Tech University)

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