Language + Communication = Advancement

Hello fellow educators!

On July 21, 2017, I joined a community of student leaders in the United Nations General Assembly Hall to celebrate innovative ideas in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (UN). The event, themed “Many Languages, One World,” brought youth from around the globe together to present action plans for advancing the SDG. Their presentations were borne out an essay contest sponsored by ELS Educational Services and the UN. The contest encouraged young scholars to share their ideas on how to repair the quality of living within the areas of SDG, such as quality education, climate action, economy growth, and justice. The presentations, which were the culmination of research, exposed current issues in many countries and offered resolutions to avoid the stagnant results of previous trials.

As essay contest winners showcased their visions of the future, their presentations were simultaneously translated by interpreters into the UN’s six official languages. With the help of listening devices, those in attendance could hear the presentations in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, or Spanish.

On the subject of education, students spoke up about the issues of race and sex, and advocated for equality in education to combat this problem. One student’s objective was to eliminate illiteracy and offer free secondary education. Another student argued that education could be the key to achieving all targets of the SDG. Others suggested how we, as global citizens, could support a switch to alternative sources of power, such as green energy, to reduce carbon dioxide. Students advocated for improvement in the quality of water in rural areas and explained how the water affects agricultural products. With limited access to food and water, students may become malnourished and dehydrated, and therefore struggle to succeed in school.

We need to make keeping students in school a priority. An essay winner speaking about Brazil revealed a link between school dropouts and criminal activity in that country. As global citizens who belong to the education community, we have to be mindful of students who may not live in safe conditions. Creating a comforting space within the classroom and leading students in project-based learning activities can allow them to feel safe and empowered.

We must increase collaborations among our neighboring countries and communicate our successes in repairing these damages. By sharing what’s wrong in one country, we can offer tips on how another country made it right. Improving the policies and systems of management that currently exist throughout all countries would reflect a global agreement on acceptable standards of living.

Diversity makes our society more resilient. Education makes it powerful.

Happy Teaching,
Clairetza Felix

Clairetza Felix is a graduate student in the Literacy Specialist program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She chose to become a UN Youth Representative to be able to offer a unique approach to education.

Voices for Change

Last week I had the privilege of witnessing a culture of peace.

There was a message delivered with urgency for global education at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The meeting was called “Conversation with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Malala Yousafzai and Young People about Girls’ Education.”

Yousafzai, who was appointed as the youngest UN Messenger of Peace, emphasized that education is a basic right that every child should have.

She believes that the youth are changemakers and therefore should believe in themselves.

Guterres agreed with Yousafzai that the voices of girls are important and should be heard. When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, she simply stated, “Believe in yourself. Believe in your ideas.”

As a woman and educator, I see the need for girls to build confidence in their abilities and skills as students and community members.” This is where we, as teachers, must step in and solidify the connection between education and opportunity. Guterres reminded us all to carry into the future the same passion for learning that we have now.

He continued on to say, “So many of us are afraid to speak up.”

We have the job of helping the youth build a voice.

There are instances when girls mute their thoughts because they are too intimidated to stand out.

However, now is the time to transform those thoughts into words and give them life through speech.

Join the movement for change.

“I decided to speak up.” -Malala Yousafzai

Happy Teaching,
Clairetza Felix

Clairetza Felix is a senior at St. Francis College, with a major in Childhood Education and a concentration in English. Currently, she serves as the Co-Event Coordinator for the Xi Rho Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi. As an aspiring Literacy Specialist, she chose to become a UN Youth Representative to offer a unique approach to education.

Refugees: The 21st Century Challenge – KDP at the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations Conference

mavrek-chakraborty-cardarelli-2

Srecko Mavrek, Dr. Basanti Chakraborty, and Dr. Rose Cardarelli (L-R)

Dr. Rose Cardarelli is a Kappa Delta Pi NGO Representative to the United Nations.

On January 27, 2017, Kappa Delta Pi representatives attended the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations conference on the theme “Refugees: The 21st Century Challenge.” This conference brought together more than 700 educators from the United States and around the globe to learn about the primary challenges confronting refugees, and especially issues concerning education.

A refugee is a person who is forced to flee their home country to escape persecution, war, or violence. Per the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 21 million people worldwide are classified as refugees, with half that number under the age of 18. An additional 10 million people around the world are stateless, meaning they may have been denied access to any education.

As educators, we are aware that education can empower and transform lives, reduce poverty, provide employment skills, and facilitate better health opportunities.

Education can change lives, communities, and countries. Therefore, the plight of these refugees should concern all of us.   

Highlights of the conference included the following sessions:

  • The opening session consisted of a discussion on current challenges confronting refugees. Panelist Ninette Kelley (UNHCR) provided background information, Bob Clark (Rockefeller Archive Center) contributed historical perspective, and Maher Nasser (UN Department of Public Information) shared his thoughts about growing up as a refugee from Palestine. The panel stressed that because of the challenges facing youth refugees, educators were vital and UN influence was critically important. To address how educators could help, the panel suggested activities such as including refugee issues in curriculum, pursuing advocacy and scholarship, and celebrating World Refugee Day to enhance awareness. Nasser said that refugees ultimately want to return to their homeland and stated, “Education is the best response to the most vulnerable—when they go to school, they can make a difference.”
  • The morning panel on refugee issues was moderated by Rima Salah (UN Secretary-General’s Panel on Peace Operations) and included Bill Frelick (Human Rights Watch), Emily Garin (UNICEF), and Mark Harris (ELS Educational Services and Berlitz, emeritus). Frelick stated, “We need bridges, not walls, and engagement, not containment.” The panel also discussed the risks refugees face, such as family separation, disappearance, death, statelessness, social exclusion and discrimination, disrupted education, violence, exploitation, and abuse. Harris shared how challenging it could be for educators who had refugees in their classrooms because they needed to understand the students’ language, observing, “Language is the key to opening the doors to education, and a common language enhances understanding.”
  • Several students from Kenya, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and Burundi spoke about being refugees and the invaluable educational opportunities provided by UN programs. They also discussed how difficult it was to attend school while in a displaced situation. Sometimes they had to choose between having water, food, or an education because not all were always available. If schools were provided, there would be no distinction between or separate classrooms for different grades. Power and toilets were not always present. As one student stated, “Everything becomes difficult.”
  • Additionally, conference awards were presented for Excellence in Education and students’ graphic art posters. KDP representative Dr. Basanti Chakraborty was one of the award recipients recognized for the poster competition at the conference, on behalf of students from Balasore College. KDP was also acknowledged for its participation in the conference.

The following is a sample of some of the services and resources identified at the conference. They can assist educators in learning about the circumstances affecting displaced students and the related challenges to obtaining a quality education. (Inclusion is not necessarily an endorsement.)

KDP members are encouraged to review the UN website for NGO relations, where there is a wealth of information and resources enabling educators to cultivate global citizenship in their classrooms.

Our United Nations Anniversary

Dear Friend of KDP,

Through the globalization movement and the use of technology that connects us both personally and professionally, the world has become smaller on multiple levels. Today, we have a better understanding of other cultures, regularly collaborate with peers from around the globe, and increasingly have a shared awareness that our futures are intertwined as we share one planet and its limited resources.

KDP has a rich legacy of promoting global understanding through the sharing of knowledge and establishing relationships with people from around the world. For example, in 1948 as KDP President, Dr. William Robinson gave 200 subscriptions of the Educational Forum to educators living in occupied Germany and China. Throughout our history, KDP has embraced activities, partnerships, and advocacy efforts that support our long-standing commitment to equity, global awareness, and quality learning for all.

With a goal of supporting global education endeavors and building the organization’s capacity, KDP applied for and was granted the status of a non-government organization, or NGO, of the Department of Public Information of the United Nations in 2010.

Today, we are celebrating the 7th anniversary of being recognized as an NGO of the United Nations!

KDP has five official representatives—which include three professional representatives and two youth representatives (between 18 and 25 years old).

Our representatives attend the weekly briefing, meetings, seminars, receptions, and other activities, and then share the information with the KDP community to keep you informed of critical global issues and to provide you with suggestions for integrating this relevant information into your classroom. The weekly briefing topics range from girls’ and women’s access to education, immigration, population and development, and special youth events.

Click here for an example of a recent Briefing Report on A Grassroots Approach to Education for All from one of our youth representatives, Clairetza Felix.

Since receiving official NGO status, KDP has fulfilled its role in a variety of ways, including hosting a conference with the Committee on Teaching about the UN on peace and conflict resolution and ongoing participation in various UNESCO meetings including the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Education for Sustainable Development. Personally, I serve on the Expert Committee for this Institute.

KDP’s mission of quality learning for all and our strategic goal related to sustainability literacy align with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, which speaks to a quality and equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.  

One target of this sustainable development goal (4.7) states, “By 2030 all learners will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development and sustainable and lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

The UN and the world have realized that achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the U.S. government in 2015, is dependent on education, and more specifically the transformation of education.

You may still have questions about what exactly sustainability literacy means. A student who is educated for sustainability has the ability, ambition, and know-how to create a world that works for everyone and every creature, now and forever. So what needs to happen to achieve the necessary level of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be sustainability literate? The integration of sustainable education calls for changes in the classroom, in the school, and in the community. It requires new approaches to preservice and inservice teacher professional development, a targeted research agenda, revised conceptions of student assessment, updated school policies, and inspired leadership.

Aside from our focus on sustainability education, the UN’s events and resources help us, as educators, and our students to be better global citizens by reminding us of key events and milestones throughout the year. 

For example, November 19 is World Toilet Day, a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and the fact that 2.4 billion people do not have access to a toilet.

Our role and responsibilities as an NGO to the United Nations and our access to the wealth of quality resources and knowledge on timely global topics the UN produces play a key role in the work of KDP and our community of educators who strive to create a better future.

As educators and citizens, we are reminded of the necessity of thinking globally while acting locally.

There has never been a more important time to be an educator.

I encourage you to check out the blogs of our representatives and the UN resources on our website as great ways to stay current on the issues, challenges, and opportunities that are impacting our world.

Faye_S_7-1-14Sincerely,

Faye Snodgress, CAE
Executive Director

Staying Rooted in Education

As a KDP Youth Representative, I had the opportunity to attend a briefing at the UN titled, “A Grassroots Approach to Education for All.”

The moderator, Alexander Wiseman, and speaker Lisa Damaschke-Deitrick were from Lehigh University’s education program. Their fellow speakers were Anwar Sayed from the Dayemi Foundation, Taylor Viens from Caring for Cambodia, and Jadayah Spencer representing the International Youth Leadership Institute.

As each person shared their experience with grassroots organizations, they connected to the importance of health and wellness. Health screenings and access to meals can transform the culture of learning to be responsive to the needs of students.

Furthermore, research presented at the briefing proved that funding new educational approaches results in shifts in curriculum and assists in combating poverty.

With political and religious turmoil displacing refugees, it is imperative that they receive a quality education that is inclusive and sensitive to their knowledge and cultural backgrounds.

As expressed by the speakers, partnering with local organizations within communities such as religious centers and non-governmental agencies can offer real-world experiences for our youth, as well as promote positive learning environments.

My Tips for This Approach

1. Know Your Neighbors

Get to know the people in your community. Seek out local businesses and organizations that are interested in helping us achieve our goal of providing an equitable education for all.

2. Brainstorm

Think of ways that you can support a student’s hygiene and diet at your school, such as items like toothbrushes and soap. A resource such as a school-wide food pantry would also be effective.

3. Be Active!

Encourage students to be problem solvers in their own communities. Simple tasks such as cleaning up parks and recycling can prepare them for bigger roles in society.

Happy Teaching,
Clairetza Felix

Clairetza Felix is a senior at St. Francis College, with a major in Childhood Education and a concentration in English. Currently, she serves as the Co-Event Coordinator for the Xi Rho Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi. As an aspiring Literacy Specialist, she chose to become a UN Youth Representative to offer a unique approach to education.

Got a Minute? Week of December 8, 2014

Got a minute for KDP? See what’s going on at headquarters in a one-minute(ish) video.

This week:

Children matter! Read our UN youth rep’s recap from the briefing

Anum Khan is a member of Alpha Alpha Delta Chapter at Saint Peter’s University. She is Kappa Delta Pi’s Youth Representative to the United Nations.

Anum Khan

Anum Khan, far right middle row, attended the November 20 UN briefing.

On November 20, I attended a United Nations briefing titled “Children’s Voices in Creating a World Fit for All: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” You can watch a recording of the briefing on the UN’s Web TV channel.

This briefing was very beneficial because it raised some very important questions, the most important of which was, “Are we listening?” Most adults do not take what children say seriously, which is wrong because children have the ability to make a difference. Their voice matters! As adults we have an obligation to consider the rights of children.

Dr. Roseanne Flores, an associate professor of psychology at Hunter College, gave an informing presentation on how adults can support and encourage children’s participation, including:

  • Make eye contact;
  • Communicate at eye level;
  • Show patience when a child is trying to communicate;
  • Ask open-ended questions to engage children and encourage a response;
  • Provide encouragement so children will speak, participate, and learn to make decisions;
  • Develop activities that will allow children to develop a sense of empowerment and leadership skills;
  • Ask children their opinion on matters that affect them; and
  • Give children age appropriate control and responsibility for their personal care.
Briefing Room

Khan’s view from the briefing room.

These points are extremely useful for educators to apply in their classrooms. It is important for children to know that they are being listened to and what they say matters.

You can read more about KDP’s affiliation with the UN on the KDP website.

* The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty, which establishes the civil, social, political, and economical rights of children.

**Note the Convention on the Rights of the Child has not been ratified in the United States, South Sudan, and Somalia. (Somalia and the United States have signed the document, but have not ratified it)