designing routes to education and mentorship
global literacy programwhy establish a field-school program?

Why establish a Field-School Program?

Mentorship Program "Prior to September 11, 2002, how many students really understood what the Taliban regime was? How many students understood religions and cultures other than their own?" 9/11 was an emergency call for educators to create curriculum that promotes global literacy: "the ability to appreciate, and interact with, people of other cultures and backgrounds," to assess global events," and "to thrive in the international environment of the 21st century" (Piper, 2002).

In a recent workshop on global literacy, organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, participants called for "the vital importance" of curriculum reform in building global literacy and outlined a number of initiatives such as: increasing student exchanges, study abroad programs, and international student enrolment; offering new courses that emphasize global histories and current international events; renewing focus on foreign language studies and promoting the importance of funding global literacy curriculum to governments, foundations and business leaders.

Educators also noted that the greatest obstacles to creating future citizens who are globally literate include: the current lack of interest in language learning; the lack of time for such international activities, both among students and faculty, especially students who hold jobs to pay for tuition, and a disinterest or "fear" of studying or working abroad. Financial barriers and lack of support from family members were also cited as significant barriers in promoting global literacy.

As Debra Humphreys, Vice-President, Communications and Public Affairs for the American Association of Colleges and Universities notes, even in the U.S., which has a stronger tradition of study abroad, there are still challenges. A recent national poll in the U.S. showed that 40% of college-bound seniors intended to study abroad, but only 3% actually do. Some 60% intended to study a foreign language, but only 7% actually do: "So our challenge isn't to change their thinking," Humphreys argues, "but rather to fulfill the promise to them of giving them the kind of education they want."

dream has responded to this challenge by developing, as an optional component of its third-year curriculum on Social Awareness and Action, a field school experience in Ek Balam. The Ek Balam program will not only promote international exchange, stimulate educational, cultural, and social development, but will also prepare future citizens for the complexities of living in a 21st century global environment. Each year, directors, mentors, students and volunteers of dream will travel to Ek Balam, Yucatan, Mexico and participate in social and cultural projects based on the mutual needs, interests, and resources. The first field-school is scheduled for March of 2007 were a team of over thirty dream directors, mentors and students will spend one-week teaching, learning, and exchanging in Ek Balam.

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