Guest Blogger Sandra Makielski (NEANK) details her experiences as an NEA Global Fellow

Going Global with the NEA Foundation

As teachers, we are tasked by the state of Rhode Island to create “globally competent graduates.” To be globally competent, we need to help our students go beyond YouTube videos and country research projects to skyping with international classrooms and participating in take-action projects. Yet, rarely are we given the opportunity to become globally competent ourselves. The NEA Foundation does just this. One teacher from each state is selected to “develop the knowledge and skills to integrate global competency into their daily classroom instruction, advocate for global competency in their schools and districts, and help students to thrive in our increasingly interconnected world. Fellows transform their classrooms to give students a global perspective.” Each summer, the Foundation takes a group of teachers overseas for an all-expense paid trip. This summer, as a NEA Global Learning Fellow, I travelled to South Africa for 10 days.

The process began with an application that is released every autumn. Applicants from all disciplines and all grade levels are encouraged to apply. The organization is looking for individuals who are open to learning about the world and willing to engage with others. One applicant from each state is chosen so there is an opportunity to network with teachers from across the continent and as far as Hawaii. A weekend conference to Washington, DC is included along with an online prep course to prepare for the summer journey.

The conference and online course laid the groundwork for my trip to South Africa. To gain a better understanding of this nation's history and contemporary challenges, we investigated apartheid by visiting museums and meeting with contemporary witnesses. Using this knowledge, we looked at the impact of apartheid on schools, eventhough apartheid ended more than 20 years ago. Each evening ended with time to debrief over delicious dinners with great conversations. We brainstormed ways to bring our new understanding back to our classrooms. A trip to South Africa would not be complete without safari! Three nights and multiple trips into Pilanesberg National Park gave us glimpses of leopards, lions, rhinos, and many other animals.

The Global Learning Fellows 2020 will be traveling to Peru. This fall you will have the opportunity to apply to be a Global Learning Fellow 2021. Will it be China or Peru or back to South Africa? Since it is through global competency that we may work to achieve social justice, then take this opportunity to experience the world and develop your critical thinking skills. This one step will help you to become a global citizen. Apply today!

For more information on South Africa GLF 2019 visit: Footsteps Across the Planet

For questions or help completing the application:

Students from United Church School, Johannesburg

Going on safari in Pilanesberg National Park

Global Learning Fellows celebrating Nelson Mandela

Spending time with a contemporary witness from the District 6 Museum