Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

If kids could vote…

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz, Republican

Last night in Iowa, Americans voted in the first U.S. primary for the 2016 presidential election. Both the Republican and Democratic races were extremely tight. While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were less than a percentage point away from each other, Ted Cruz decisively won the Republican vote, beating out Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, among others.

How would this vote have gone differently if kids were allowed to vote? In English Language Arts class, 6th graders were recently asked by their teacher, Mrs. Coes, to write a persuasive essay arguing who should be president. Here are some excerpts from students who agreed to share their perspectives publicly. (Note: We didn’t edit their writing at all, so please excuse any grammatical errors and focus on their message.)

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Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, Democrat

Why Hillary Clinton is best on climate change: Hillary Clinton will focus on climate change by working on renewable energy. One of her many goals is that every home in America will be running on renewable energy in just ten years. She wants to run America largely on solar panels. She wants to get 500 million solar panels on homes around America. Hillary Clinton wants to run America on more than just solar panels. She also wants America to run on hydro power. She wants to create a cleaner hydropower.

Why Bernie Sanders is best on healthcare: Bernie Sanders thinks that people should not have high prices on prescriptions. He wants poor people to be able to get medicines and not have to pay for it. He also wants everyone to have health care even if he can’t pay for it. This can affect people’s lives if they can’t pay for medicine. If someone can’t pay for medicine and are/get really sick they might have to go to the hospital. If that person goes to the hospital, their family and/or themselves will have to pay a larger fee.  If someone cannot go to the hospital because they can not pay for the ambulance, then they won’t be able to go to the hospital.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, Republican

Why Donald Trump is best on healthcare: Donald Trump will break the healthcare insurance company and will allow people to buy insurance across the state lines. This means if you move to another state you can keep your health insurance. You will now need to pay for healthcare insurance but it is affordable. This affects people’s life because some families work hard for there money when other families can just get it free. People could have more choices with Donald Trump.

Why Bernie Sanders is best on the Iran Nuclear Deal: To try and stop them with force, we would go to war. Bernie Sanders wants to stop them peacefully. He would do that by talking with their leader and convincing them to step down and get rid of it. That would affect lives because if we go to war then family members might have to go fight them. Bernie Sanders might let them have the nuclear weapon as long as they do not hurt anyone. Bernie Sanders said that we would watch them if people decided to let them have it. It would be constant surveillance.  

Why Hillary Clinton is best on immigration: Hillary Clinton has the best solutions when it comes to immigration. For instance, she thinks that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay. However, if they constantly commit crimes they will be deported from the USA. In addition, she thinks that the secure fence act of 2006 should be be followed up on.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, Democrat

Why Bernie Sanders is best on equality: Bernie Sanders wants to keep same-sex marriage for the whole country. He wants there to be equal rights for everyone. Bernie Sanders is against the “Marriage Protection Amendment” because it says that this country will consist only of man and woman unity. This can affect people’s lives if they are gay and or already married. This can affect children because their parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles might be gay. People don’t know who is gay or not, maybe a friend’s parent(s) are gay.

Why Hillary Clinton is best on healthcare: Hillary Clinton thinks it is not right that medicine prices go up without any reason. For instance, if you have asthma it would be harder to afford the medicine if it was previously $5, but is now $100. What are you going to do? As a result, she challenges them by sending them complaints that the prices should not go up. This makes a difference because she has been a federal figure. Which usually tends to make people listen to her. Also, to many people in poverty can’t afford healthcare.

Ben Carson

Ben Carson, Republican

Why Ben Carson is best on education: Dr. Carson has exclaimed that the Common Core standards have become a propaganda system in most states. Standardized testing is now a big competition for the “smartest” school. If the people, as a democracy, help to eliminate the requirement for Common Core standards, it will allow students to branch out, and learn more effectively.

Why Hillary Clinton is best on equality: There is no space for discrimination in today’s world. She wanted everyone to have equal rights no matter who you are where you are or how old you are everyone deserves equality. She also believes that military worker should be treated fairly because there is no reason that they should not be treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation. There were 14,000 soldiers let down because of their sexual orientation she wants to go into their records and change it saying that they got let down in an honorable way.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio, Republican

Why Hillary Clinton is best on education: Hillary Clinton will focus on education by making college more affordable. She wants to make college something that not only the rich can experience, but the middle class and below as well. She wants to make community college free and she wants to help out former college students. She does not want former college students to have debt hanging over their head. She will help people refinance college loans. She will also make it so the government will no longer get money from student loans.

Why Bernie Sanders is best on the economy: He will raise paychecks, and minimum wages for everybody. He will make the rich pay more taxes than the middle class, so the money gap will become smaller. That will help him lessen the gap between the rich and the middle class. He will make sure that 1 family will not own more than 130 million Americans. That will make sure that the income is fairly spread out, and the difference between rich and middle class will lessen, and not grow larger.

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ObamaAs you can see, the debates were heated. As is typical in Massachusetts, the majority of students focused on democratic candidates. At the end of the unit, several students changed their mind about who they would vote for. Mrs. Coes asked, “After writing about a political candidate, would you vote for this person if you were old enough to vote? Why or why not?” One student who wrote about Donald Trump decided that he didn’t like Trump’s views on women’s rights after all, and several others also changed their minds after doing more research. Other students stayed committed to their candidates. In response to the question about if he would vote for the candidate about whom he wrote his essay, one student answered “No. Because I can’t base my info on a child’s work.”

So, there you have it. Maybe it’s best to give them a few more years to do their research.

Note: If you a US citizen and over 18, register to vote by clicking here. If you live in Massachusetts, you must register by Wednesday, February 10th to vote in the presidential primary.


Scavenger Hunt: Can we SEE Culture?

When we meet a new person, we can take guesses about their culture, but we can’t really tell too much until we get to know them. Even when we know someone for a while, we might not understand aspects of their culture.

As we discussed in class, that’s because culture is like an iceberg. Most aspects of culture are not visible below the water.iceberg

When I travel, I love to learn about the local culture, but it can be difficult to get past surface-level observations and really get to know people. Do you think people can see culture? Fill out this worksheet as you complete the blog scavenger hunt below. Click on the observations to help solve the puzzle of other people’s cutures.


  1. Observation A: Overall, the students are very _________ in the classroom. I could tell this because they dress in button down shirts and nice slacks and skirts.
  2. Observation B:  While in Ukraine, I ate a varenyky dessert – dumplings filled with __________! They were not too sweet, but you can dip them in honey
  3. Observation C: People don’t emphasize _________ space very much in Ukraine. They often stand very close to the person in front of them when waiting in line.
  4. Which of these observations is the easiest for a tourist to see? ____


  1. Observation A: Divorce is not very ________ here, and it is looked down upon.
  2. Observation B: Even though many people are non-religious today, _________ still has a big influence on people’s values.
  3. Observation C: I checked out a show of Chinese _______.  While a lot of these tricks look very modern, they are based on Chinese arts that are hundreds of years old
  4. Which of these observations is the easiest for a tourist to see? ____


  1. Observation A: Kecek is a form of dance and music where the musicians create all the sounds with their ___________.
  2. Observation B: Locals probably build temples at their rice fields to wish for a good ____________.
  3. Observation C: People in Bali are very _____________, and one taxi driver on the street told us that the Balinese people use Kuningan Day to practice dharma, or being compassionate to others.
  4. Which of these observations is the easiest for a tourist to see? ____

Working in the Fields


  1. Observation A: In Iceland, people believe that _________ watch over people, and nobody can build in the capital city unless these guys give approval! They even build tiny houses for them to live in.
  2. Observation B: Iceland is a really safe country. Very few people have ________ and the crime rate is really low.
  3. Observation C: Iceland celebrates a holiday called _____________ Day, with a festival of live music and kids’ activities.
  4. Which of these observations is the easiest for a tourist to see? ____


  1. Observation A: It is typical to take off your __________ before entering a Japanese house, and they had an entryway just for that.
  2. Observation B: Both children and adults in Japan like things that are “kawaii” which means ___________.
  3. Observation C: Buddhist monks do not eat ___________ for religious reasons.
  4. Which of these observations is the easiest for a tourist to see? ____



  1. Observation A: It is traditional to _________ with shopkeepers to get the best price.
  2. Observation B: For Muslim men, wearing a __________ is traditional, but not allowed in public schools and government buildings.
  3. Observation C: It is considered polite to offer guests ________ when they visit your house in Turkey.
  4. Which of these observations is the easiest for a tourist to see? ____

Want to keep learning about culture? For extra credit, choose a blog entry (any one that you haven’t checked out yet for UkraineChinaIndonesiaIcelandJapan, or Turkey). In the comments of this scavenger hunt, write your own trivia question about culture in this country.

Did you complete the scavenger hunt? Do you think it is easy to observe someone else’s culture? For people completing this scavenger hunt at home, email for the answers (if you can’t figure them out yourself).

The Making of a Global Citizen: A Peek Inside the Classroom

Drawing a Global Citizen 7It’s a new quarter, and that means yesterday we started a new unit. During Holy C.O.W., we’ll be studying world geography, religion, and Cultures Of the World (that’s the COW part). I am so excited to teach about my favorite topic — how we can all become better global citizens!

The last two days have been jam packed. We’ve already started learning about how different countries have different resources. During the Hat Design Olympics, students competed to make the best hat ever, but they did not have the same resources as their competitors! Some only had papertowels or scrap paper to work with, but other teams had aluminum foil, cups, ribbon, and more.

Today, we learned about how different countries sell their resources to other countries. We represented these trade routes with yarn. After we were all connected, we could see how a problem in one country can have a big impact on people in other countries. It’s a little hard to teach and film at the same time, but here’s a little taste of how the activity looks:

Since we know that people all over the globe are connected to each other, we are starting to talk about what it means to be a true global citizen, or someone who gives back to their planet and not just their local community. We watched one of my favorite TED Talks yesterday, about a National Geographic photographer and his experience learning about the world:

For homework, students were asked to draw a global citizen. There was a lot of variation in what they chose to draw:

Some students chose to highlight particular people who they felt modeled global citizenship. One student chose Dr. Elizabeth Stern, a scientist who made breakthroughs in cancer detection. She wrote, “Elizabeth is a global citizen because she has saved many people with her discovery… She is helping and being a community member to people all around the world.” Elizabeth Stern

Another student chose President Obama. He wrote, “Obama is a global citizen because not only does he only help Americans he can help people from anywhere.”


Another student chose Malala Yousafazi, the youngest person to be nominated for a Nobel Prize. This student wrote described her as a global citizen because she “fights for girls education. She wants all education to be equal for everyone.”


As we continue learning about global citizenship this quarter, hopefully students will see that it’s not so hard to think and act globally. You don’t have to be superhero to make it happen, although sometimes it seems that way. Here’s a last drawing, from a student who drew Ironman as a global citizen!


Are you a good global citizen? If you don’t think so right now, keep learning and you will become one soon!

Future Martin Luther King Jrs

You are who you areIn honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I challenged my students to follow in King’s footsteps this week. I asked them to think of a group of people who are treated unfairly in our country, and to do something — no matter how small — to work towards justice.

Students certainly had a lot to say. They focused on all sorts of different groups of people, and they made posters, delivered speeches, crafted videos, and wrote letters. Here is a taste of their hopes for the future of America…

Justice for People with Disabilities:

You belong hereJustice for Transgender People:

I think transgenders should be accepted and appreciated because they are very brave and they choose to do something bold. I believe that these women are very brave because they did something that was totally their choice with support or no support from their family.

Justice for Poor People: 

Justice for American Muslims:

Dear America — Muslims are not treated correctly. Sure, there are some bad Muslims but not all are bad. America is currently treating Muslims this way and it’s not right. Not all deserve to be treated this way. I say America finds a way to accept the Muslims that are innocent. Muslims come to America to feel as if they have shelter to feel safe but it’s hard for them to do that if we can not accept them. I feel that what we are doing is wrong. I think it is something to think about, put yourself in their shoes, would you like it? I know I sure wouldn’t. There are bad people in every race. Being a certain race doesn’t automatically make a person bad. There are people who come to this country to make a better life and work hard for the dream we get to live. If they are here peaceful and hardworking why treat them unequal. I mean unless you have no feelings and your heart is cold blooded. This is only my opinion but I feel that my opinion should be noticed. I’m only standing up for what I believe is right. This goes for all around America, if you think the same, do something and stand up for the Muslims.  Don’t stand back and watch because it’s not helping anyone or anything. Make a change! Do something, Say something! Silence will solve nothing. I’m telling you it will work, it will help, it will make America beautiful. It will make you feel more beautiful than you can imagine. It’s what happens when you make a change. So think about it seriously, this is a time to come together.

Muslims are HumansJustice for People of All Sizes:

Don’t Judge A Book by It’s Cover… Many people are judgmental against obese people because they see them as lazy. Popular Culture (movies, tv, magazines) teaches us that thin is beautiful. In school, overweight children experience more bullying, are isolated, and are usually picked last for all sporting events. Dating is also difficult for overweight adults because skinny is more desirable. If I had my way, more people would see past the number on the scale and get to know obese people for who they really are. 

Justice for People with Mental Illness:

Mental Illness

Justice for People Who Have Spent Time in Prison:

Treat Ex-Cons Fairly

Justice for Women:Gender Equality

Justice for People of All Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities:


I’m proud of my students’ efforts this week. I wish I had videotaped some of their speeches, but you’ll have to make do with this little taste of their words. Have you been influenced by any of these perspectives? What kind of justice are you working for today?

Treat People

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Note: If you are a teacher and you are interested in this activity, here’s a little more info. We started by reading a playabout Martin Luther King Jr.’s work, designed for 3rd-5th grade, called Nonviolence on the Move. We discussed King’s strategies and why he was so effective. Then, as a class, students brainstormed groups of people who are not always treated fairly in our country today. In order to design their project, they used this worksheet that I designed to focus on 5 questions:

  • What group of people do you want to be treated more fairly?
  • Give at least 1-2 examples of ways that people from this group are not treated fairly.
  • What change do you want to happen?
  • What’s one strategy that Martin Luther King Jr. used in his work that you could use also?
  • How would you like to take action on this issue? Prepare a small poster, video, speech, or do something else?


True Things

saracups.jpgAs it turns out, sometimes it’s easy to forget how much I love art. When I was a kid I used to have all sorts of projects going, all over my house. I’ve always loved creating stuff, but these days I often find myself too busy to get crafting.

When I could sneak in a few minutes to let my creative juices run wild this week, I ended up making a little music video about our global humanity. It features photographs I’ve taken in 20 different countries, and a sweet little song I’ve been digging recently. You’re the first to see it!

In recent years, I’ve been loving the process of creating art using technology, whether digital photography, videography, or blogging. Sure, it’s still fun making balloons for people, but I’m really enjoying learning these new art forms.Balloons on Malian Transit

It’s not too early to start brainstorming possible trips for next summer, and my mind is on a big multi-media project. Could I make a documentary film instead of little YouTube clips? Probably I should first learn how to use basic photo editing software, huh?Bali Wandering Send me ideas for places to go and projects to realize. Right now, it’s the brainstorming phase, so anything goes!

Help solve the mystery of the global dolls

Today, while eating lunch in the teachers’ room, I got an unexpected phone call from the main office. A parent of some of my former students had arrived with a donation.

“Can she bring this donation to your classroom?” the receptionist asked. “She says she has some dolls from Nepal.”

I had no idea what to expect, but agreed to meet her. I have a few dolls from my travels, and they are fun to use in the classroom, in particular when we are discussing culture.

Ukrainian Dolls

Dolls that I got as a gift in Ukraine

A few minutes later, she arrived to my classroom with a big black trash bag. She explained that a good friend had passed away, and she couldn’t bear to see her friend’s collection thrown out. The owner of the dolls had been a big traveler, especially to Nepal, and the parent bringing them to me assumed the dolls were from there. As she took them out, I saw at least one pair of dolls that looked like they came from Nepal. They are beautiful — what looks like a couple carrying a heavy load at the end of a long day of work.Nepali Dolls

As we went through the other dolls in the bag, I realized that these were not all from Nepal. I have to admit — I have guesses for where some of them are from, but others are a total mystery to me. That’s where you come in. Help me, dear readers, to solve this puzzle. Where are these dolls from?

Mystery Doll Couple #1: They don’t quite look Tibetan to me…


Mystery Doll Couple #2: Are they dancers?

Mystery Dolls #3: How old are these?

Mystery Dolls 3

Mystery Doll #4: Does she live in the Andes Mountains of South America?

Mystery Doll 4

Mystery Doll #5: Is she friends with doll #4? Where will her baby grow up to live?

Mystery Dolls #6: What else besides dolls might be made of these materials?

Mystery Dolls 6

Ok, let’s see if the internet can work its magic. Please share this post with your global friends, and comment on the blog entry if you have any information to share. Let’s see if we can work together to figure out where these dolls come from.

Tibetan DollThank you for your help!

I’ll close out by sharing a photo of the very first global doll that I received while traveling. It was a goodbye gift from my first students, back when I was a private tutor for an American family traveling the world. This is a Tibetan doll bought in Northern India, in a town called McLeod Ganj, where the Dalai Lama lives. You can’t see in the photo, but under his hat, he’s got a long braid down his back.

TIPAWhen I look at this doll, I remember a time in my life that was full of growth and new opportunity. I remember drinking chai tea while listening to the Dalai Lama’s teachings. I remember watching dancers at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), and roaming that Himalayan town looking for new types of birds. When I look at this doll, my heart is full of all sorts of memories.

I can only imagine what kinds of stories each of these other dolls holds. Please help me and my students start putting the pieces together.


2016: Let’s Look Beyond the Headlines

ScratchMapWhen I look back at the headlines from 2015, it was a pretty rotten year. The world looks like a pretty scary place when you see a constant stream of terrorism, political fighting, climate change, and gun violence. My goal in 2016 is to help people look beyond the headlines.

Here are some examples from recent news:

New Year’s Eve headline: A high rise building caught fire in Dubai, burning right next to the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, as the city celebrated New Years with their annual fireworks (1).

What I think of when I hear about Dubai: I only spent one night in Dubai, but I’ll remember watching the spectacular dancing fountains just below that tall tower, the Burj Khalifa.

Last week’s headline: China will get rid of its one child policy, and starting yesterday, January 1st, 2016, families will be able to have two children without huge tax fines (2).

What I’ll think of when I hear about China: I spent 7 weeks teaching English speaking high school students about China during the summer of 2012. I’ll remember so many amazing moments, such as volunteering with the Migrant Children’s Project, helping children from families unable to go to public school because of a complex government policy.

Last month’s headline: Forest fires in Indonesia this year destroyed 6.4 million acres of rainforest and farmland, causing more than half a million people to develop acute respiratory infections (3).

What I think of when I hear about Indonesia: The beaches of Bali will be forever etched into my memory, but the island’s friendly people are really what make this place so compelling to tourists from around the world.

Last year’s headline: Mali 391-1Terrorists took over a hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali, keeping hostages for many hours (4).

What I think of when I hear about Mali: I’ll remember the amazing people who took care of me during my time volunteering there. And listening to the beautiful Muslim call to prayer at one of the most amazing mosques in the world, made entirely of mud.

Nobody knows what 2016 will bring, but let’s all work together to look past the headlines, and see the people. As you can see, travel helps me feel connected. What helps you to stay hopeful?

What makes a happy year?

Happy new year! When we look back over the last year, we tend to focus on the big stuff. What changes took place? What adventures did we have?

Inari 6

For me, when I think about 2015, the highlight that stands out is definitely hiking into the crater of the Ijen Volcano on the island of Java, in Indonesia. I will never forget what it felt like to be there.

Even though it’s those big events that stand out, I know that it’s the little moments that matter most. Sharing a laugh with a student. Giving a hug to a friend during a rough time. Just being with people I love. Those moments might not be as memorable, but added together, those are the ones that make up our lives. This year, I got to watch my niece turn 2.

What little moments will fill 2016? Last summer in Japan, it wasn’t the lights of Tokyo or the beautiful temples that made the trip so special. It was spending time with friends like Ishida Sensei, who showed me around his hometown. It was seeing how much pride he feels in his city. Here’s to many more little moments of connection, close to home or far away.


My Parents, the Global Citizens

This blog is all about what it means to an active citizen of our amazing planet. Global citizenship might be a new term to some, but I was lucky to grow up with parents who taught me a lot about becoming a person who thinks about my footprint. Today, on Christmas 2015, this is my gift to the people who raised me.

Lessons My Parents Taught Me:


My family (I’m the little one, and my sister is holding the dog)

1. Travel whenever possible ~ My parents sent me to France (without them) when I was 15 years old. Even though they are real worriers, they encouraged me to explore the world from a very young age.


Family trip to Jamaica, one of my first experiences abroad. I’m in the dress, with my sister, cousin, and a new friend we met on the trip.

2. Observe carefully. Notice and create beauty ~ My mother is an artist and she definitely taught me to appreciate the natural world, and to take time to really see your surroundings. She also taught me that some things take time, but they are worth it.

Mom in Poppies

My mother on a trip to Italy in 2006


One of her beautiful paintings

3. Figure out how to build things ~ My dad is an engineer, and he loves to create too, but in a different way than my mom. He helped me figure out how to build a real igloo when I was 8 or so, and today, he is still helping my little niece build.

4. Invest in people for the long haul ~ My parents have been married for over 45 years. They appreciate each other’s idiosyncrasies and they bring the best out of each other.

Tandem Bike

My parents at their wedding, with one of their new gifts.

5. Do things even if you are scared of them ~ My mother gets very anxious flying, and she doesn’t think of herself as particularly athletic.  She still steps out of her comfort zone time and time again, pushing herself to have adventures. In a few weeks, my parents are heading to the Galapagos Islands, and during the summer of 2014, they took me on a trip to Iceland.

6.  Volunteer and take time to learn about other cultures. ~ My parents both invest a lot of energy into understanding others. My mom volunteers with the cultural council in her town, and my dad runs language groups and speaks 4+ languages, among other projects.

7. Read. A lot. ~ My parents both take time every day to read. They are very intelligent people (I’m pretty sure they have 5 degrees between the two of them) but more importantly, they are curious to learn about others.


Reading together as a family. This photo is fun because my sister later became a primatologist (she studies apes)!

8. Try new things. You never know what you’ll fall in love with. ~ When I was little, my parents encouraged me to try all sorts of new activities, from ballet to swimming. Today, I am a person who is open to trying new things, and that’s how I got interested in balloon twisting. My parents have always supported whatever I’m into.

9. Appreciate the outdoors ~ There’s nothing like fresh air, mountains, and trees!


10. In the end, there’s nothing more important than love ~ Taking care of our planet means caring for the people we love. My parents showed me what true love looks like, not with one big action but all the little moments over the years.

In Bed

Today, as a teacher, I believe that the most important part of my job is teaching students to be globally competent, which the Asia Society defines as:

  • Investigating the world
  • Recognizing perspectives
  • Communicating ideas
  • Taking action

Thank you to my parents for all of the ways that they’ve taught me these lessons. Mom and dad – I love you!

Readers – Merry Christmas to all of you, with special thanks to those of you who have taught lessons like these to the people you love.


Now is the time for teachers to relax… and apply for free travel


Sand.pngStudies have shown that teachers should take some time to relax during vacations in order to avoid burn out.  That’s obvious, right?

If you are a teacher, here’s what you might not know. Now is the time to apply for a fellowship to travel for free during next summer. Some of these applications are long, but I promise you — it’s worth it. This could you be, next summer:

Me and Buddha

Me and a Giant Buddha in Kamakura, Japan

I have been lucky enough to have received two fellowships, and they both really changed my life in huge ways. You could be doing one of these programs in the not-so-distant future:

Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for ESD ~ Applications due January 20th

GroupPhotoESDSFThis program brings together American and Japanese teachers in both countries for an unbelieveable cross-cultural experience. The fellowship focuses on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which is basically about teaching students to be changemakers and work to make the world a better place. Sustainability isn’t just about the environment. As educators, we can teach students to fight for a planet that has a sustainable economy, culture and traditions, and more. Group at KaraokeOne thing that makes this program unique is that it’s jointly funded by the U.S. government and the Japanese government. I was SO impressed by the cohort of American and Japanese teachers who did the program with me. This was no ordinary group of teachers. The people in my year will be friends for a long time, but also they were totally inspiring educators who see their job as a kind of social justice.

Teachers For Global Classrooms (TGC) ~ Applications due March 17th

TGC is not just a trip, but a year-long professional development experience. Ukrainian HospitalityYou’ll learn about the growing field of global education, through an online course, a symposium in Washington D.C., and a two-week international trip. I went to Ukraine, but other teachers have gone to Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and more.


Doing this program in 2011-2012 really helped me to see how the work that I do every day fits into a larger movement that is changing the way educators see their role. As our world becomes more and more globally connected, the way we teach has to shift. This program connected me with a whole network of people all over the world working to teach students to be true global citizens.

There are many other fellowships that sound pretty fabulous also. Here are a few more, with upcoming deadlines:

  • Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program ~ Applications due January 3rd ~ This prestigious program allows educators to board a National Geographic ship on expeditions to places like the Arctic, Iceland, the Galapagos, Antarctica and more.
  • TOP Germany Study Tour ~ Applications due January 25th ~ The Transatlantic Outreach Program is designed to help Social Studies and STEM teachers experience modern Germany in a hands-on manner.
  • Keizai Koho Center Teacher Fellowship ~ Applications due February 15th ~ If you are a U.S. or Canadian Social Studies teacher, you are eligible for this free study tour in Japan.Chicago and Tokyo Banner

If you don’t get into any of these, don’t lose hope. There are many ways to get abroad without breaking the bank. You might consider:

  • IMG_8349Global Leadership Adventures (Interviews begin in January) ~ Apply to work with high school students on a service learning trip abroad. I served as an International Director in China, and had an absolute blast learning alongside the students.
  • Primary Source Study Tours ~ It’s kind of on the expensive side, but nobody does global education work better than Primary Source. What do you think — Spain and Morocco next July sounds pretty dreamy, right?
  • SaraLionsGEEO ~ This organization runs trips for teachers, with the idea that if you enrich teachers’ lives, you enrich students’ lives. You pay for the trip, but the cost is more reasonable than a lot of other options out there, and you can fundraise to subsidize.
  • Global Competence Certificate Program (Next application deadline is May 22) ~ They have it all: an online course with instructors from Teacher’s College at Columbia, fieldwork in places like Ecuador and Uganda, and collaborative practice groups with other like-minded educators.

Whatever you do, don’t let fear or money get in the way of your chance to see the world. Think ahead, and make it happen. You’ll be glad you did.

But first, take some time to rest up and celebrate the hard work you’ve done in 2015. Teachers — enjoy your well deserved vacation!

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Do you know of other ways for teachers to get abroad? Have you done any of these programs? Share in the comments section so that we can inspire other teachers to apply for these amazing experiences.

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