Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Face to Faith: Teaching Students to be Global Citizens


In our last Face to Faith video conference for the year, my religion students considered human rights issues important to their lives. One issue they considered with particular passion was women’s rights, especially the right of young women to be treated with the same respect as men when they drink. Why, some students wondered, is it always incumbent on women to be careful?

 Our facilitator challenged the students to consider what responsibility they had for human rights violations that don’t directly affect them, like the collapse of the textile factory in Bangladesh.

Our video conference was with just one other school, a Catholic school in a predominantly Mormon state, Utah. The conference facilitator, Jo Malone, skyped in from London and our technical engineer who helped us with sound and picture, Nonica Kochhar, was in India.

The conference lasted only an hour because the other school was on a 55 minute schedule but the discussion was good and could have continued for another thirty minutes. This conference was our fifth and over the course of the last few months, we tested the three different types of conferences that Faith to Faith offers.
  • We completed a partnered conference with another school (this one was with a school in Ukraine).
  • We participated in one special day conference—UN Malaria Day. Students from several schools listened to a speaker and then discussed the issues with her.
  • Finally, we completed two multipoint conferences with several schools, one on community and values, and the most recent one on human rights.
We prepare  students for each conference with several lessons, usually provided by Face to Faith.  For example,  I showed a PowerPoint on malaria and several video clips on how it spreads.

My students enjoyed all the conferences and considered them a highlight.  They got to discuss important global current issues like the tragedy in Bangladesh, malaria in Africa, women’s rights, wealth and philanthropy, and the significance of community and values.  In some cases, they got to discuss the issues with experts or activists in the field.  But what they liked the most was talking to students in other parts of the world and discovering that while culture might differentiate them,  commitment to faith and community often serve as common bonds.

Next year, I plan to incorporate Face to Faith with my history classes.  Religion is an important component of those classes and will allow students to incorporate their knowledge of religion with current events. The program would also work well with human geography classes.

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