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Nepal Semester Student's Catherine Von Holt's photograph of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.

What does Global Education mean to you?

Jason and Claire, our Dragons instructors asked this question of us educators today. Here are our responses:

“To gain an awareness of different ways of being and an open mind to understandings different from our own” – Elisha

“Awareness, mindfulness and empathy” – Ari

“Building awareness and empathy on global issues and events that are difficult for students to relate to” – Samantha

“Three circles:

  • Personal Development: empathy, leadership, compassion, responsibility, roles and space
  • Community Development: Cultural differences, ways of living
  • World Development: the passionate connection within these three.”  – Yut

“To develop broader world-views and the ability to understand complex issues. And to have more compassion for others.”  – Jasmine

“Self awareness, empathy and responsibility.” – Matt

“Practicing compassion, awareness and mindfulness with a goal of building more responsible and sustainable habits.” – Jacqui

“Global education starts with the self, inner awareness and taking it global, first we have to know ourselves before we can understand others” – Sheila

“To encourage student growth and self awareness in order to engage in an empathetic understanding of other people’s and cultures with the goal of connecting their own journey of self discovery to the goals of others around the world.” – Ingrid

With unique perspectives we can all agree that awareness is key. We dove into the idea of the connection between awareness and behaviour, and how this rarely occurs naturally. So the first step is awareness and then working with students to figure out which habits support their new understanding of the world, considering what can they bring home. These changes can inspire goals of action. Actions can be small but the key is that they are responsible choices that become habits.

Do not think yourself into a corner, start doing little things. Grow and do your best until you know better.

Bring the abstract ideas to people…get to know someone who is affected by this issues. This is how we can frame learning service. Get to know people and places, experience them.

Our desire to create awareness and critical introspection of who we are.

Translating awareness into action with regards to issues that are important to us.

To understand a place and it’s people you must experience the place and the people.

Be aware of tone, pace and the beauty of balancing your many selves. Have many selves and embrace your own diversity as a global citizen.

An example of this, a time we experienced a new version of ourselves actually, was experiencing noble silence at the Namo Buddha Monastery. While we were there we had many personal and global insights and were fortunate to spend time with and to learn from a High Lama, Karma Phunsok. Although our time was far too brief, the lessons were impactful.

Let me attempt to capture the essence of one of his examples of an apple, or at least my modest interpretation of it:

APPLES.

If you have never had an apple and someone tells you an apple is sweet, you hear them, so you have LISTENED.

If you know what sweet means, you have tasted something else that was ‘sweet’ before, then you UNDERSTOOD.

Now you can CONTEMPLATE that “an apple is sweet”.

But only once you have EXPERIENCED the taste of an apple also learned about the tools used to describe an apple, “a-p-p-l-e” (the alphabet or spoken word) can you begin to really know that an apple is sweet.

This is the way that the High Lama Karma Phunsok taught us about the process of learning to meditate. You must first know the ABCs you must listen and learn about meditation, try to understand the meaning of it, contemplate and experience meditation before you can finally, meditate.

Lessons from the monastery:

  • Listen (learn)
  • Understand (make connections)
  • Contemplate (consider meaning)
  • Experience (immerse yourself with the subject)
  • Meditate (find peace and balance)

There are so many connections to the story of the apple; A-P-P-L-E.

Perhaps this a model for looking at Global Education.

First we must take time pre-trip to listen and learn about a place as we begin to understand the place and people we can contemplate our ideas and preconceptions and discuss these ideas. However, only once we experience people or a place can we really know, or at least scratch the surface of knowing, and with this experience the hope is to develop a more aware self and a broader perspective that leads to compassionate actions.

Points to ponder…

  • Take this towards the challenges that society faces ….
  • When you travel through a place what are the kinds of issues that you noticed?
  • Which issues do you want to look into? Which ones are similar to those at home? Use the same lens  you used here in Nepal to look at similar issues at home…

And finally I leave you with this. Yesterday when we returned to wifi I connected with a mentor of mine back home in Canada, from the other side of the world! Myke Healy shared this quote with me and I wish to share it with all of you, as it is an excellent capstone to ponder upon completion of this journey.

Myke wrote the following to me, “in the end, one must live by example, share with those who are truly open to hearing, and wait for the quiet moments where one can make an impact.”

(Joseph Campbell’s last line about “good people at a loss to comprehend.”)

Myke continued with “it is so important to remember — we love those around us, but sometimes it is hard for them to really understand the other’s powerful experience. But when one sees the impact of an experience on a loved one — especially deep meditation  — then the question is “they are so positive this was clearly so good, I want to understand too. With students, the power comes in being unflappable, relentlessly optimistic, and tirelessly compassionate.”

I am honoured to share the words of so many people that I shared this journey with from across the globe. The journey doesn’t end when you leave the place, it continues as you share with others. Evidence of this process already starting is above and I am excited to learn about everyone’s new directions and how they incorporate it with their home school. And isn’t this what Global Education is all about? Sharing, and knowing that change is the only thing that is really constant.

Thank you for sharing everyone.