International Village 2017: A Celebration of Change Makers from Around the Globe

This week’s Head’s Corner blog is written by Diana Bender, Middle School Latin teacher and Advisor

On Friday May 26, Turning Point students, teachers, and parents will participate in the annual International Village. We are excited to exchange knowledge, to spark curiosity, and to inspire positive change throughout our community.

This year’s International Village theme, A Celebration of Change Makers from Around the Globe, is a result of the collaboration and thoughtful planning of a task force of middle school teachers.

Those who have visited the village in the past may notice a change as we have moved away from studying a country as a whole to focusing on one element of the country, using guiding essential questions that allow for deeper learning and prompt our students to develop empathy and make meaningful connections. When students are presented with essential questions, their learning is endless. They think critically about their knowledge and their answers evolve as they continue to question and learn about our world.

In preparation for this year’s village, the middle school students were divided into nine groups to study a change maker from Guinea, Myanmar, South Africa, Peru, Poland, Australia, Pakistan, Japan, or Guatemala. Students incorporated Turning Point’s Core Values in their stories and focused on three essential questions:

  • What inspires change makers to take action?
  • What is their change maker’s legacy?
  • Where is there a need for change in our community?

Similarly, in the Primary and Elementary classrooms, teachers applied grade level appropriate essential questions and infused global citizenship understandings, skills, and values to deepen the learning about the regions surrounding the International Village countries. The resulting cross-curricular projects will be displayed in and around the tents. Prior to the village on Friday, Level 8 students will have visited the Primary and Elementary classrooms to ask them what they have learned about the region they studied and where they see a need for change in our community. Through asking the same essential question that they themselves have been focusing on, we deepen the sense of community and students at all levels are encouraged to make more connections between the countries and regions they have studied.

When the Primary and Elementary classes visit each country’s tent, they will hear the children’s book and will work on a craft project that ties to the change maker and the country. Our Level 8 student leaders will return with the classes to their rooms to follow-up on the learning, and to further discuss the essential question of how we can make change in our world.

Next month, Mr. Matt Kline, middle school teacher and community leadership coordinator, will lead a trip that will take fourteen middle school students on a great adventure to one of our International Village countries, Peru. Our summer service learning trip involves a deep dive into Community Development in Peru’s Mountain Villages, including Machu Picchu. Because they will actually be traveling to their country, this particular International Village group studied a change maker named Maritza Marcavillaca Vargas, who has spearheaded the efforts to create a weekly marketplace in Cuzco. Over the past decade, her efforts have led to improving the lives of over 8,000 indigenous farmers. She has also fought hard to secure greater respect and equal rights for indigenous women in Peru. As part of this summer service program in Cuzco, Turning Point students will have the opportunity to visit the weekly market that Maritza created, experience Machu Picchu, and then spend five days working in the Cuzco area on a service project.

This is one example of how studying change makers enables students to discover for themselves what it takes to effect positive change in a challenging and changing world.

We hope that the stories presented by the students, and the International Village as a whole, will inspire you and your families to think about where there is a need for a change in your community, and will promote positive conversation, collaboration, and transformation.

Diana Bender

Middle School Latin | Level 6 Advisor | Facilitator of Level 6-7 Transition
Turning Point School

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