When it comes to teaching
kids about the planet, faraway countries are about to seem a little nearer.
That’s thanks to philanthropist Paige Sanborn and her children: 13-year-0ld Mackenzie and 10-year-old Austin, who are students in the Harborfields Central School District.
With a Friday departure, the Sanborns are spending the next three months traveling the world, and sharing their stories about the people they meet via Going Global’s Your Virtual Passport, a new educational multimedia travel web platform featuring live and archived virtual field trips, videos, blogs, downloadable lesson plans and more.
“We are partnering with schools – some of them in impoverished areas – to help children around the world get a quality education and for children from around the world to understand what they have in common,” Paige said, in a statement. “All the schools participating then become global classrooms. Even the impoverished areas do have Internet connections and mobile devices.”
Their first stop: Guatemala, where they will be visiting schools and getting to know the children and their families there. Joining the Sanborns are a five-person film crew who will document the three-month journey. Also onboard are two teachers who will tutor Mackenzie and Austin and blog and work with some Long Island educators to develop lesson plans and curriculum that they say will meet Common Core Standards.
The program is produced by Going Global’s Your Virtual Passport, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to bring experiences from across the globe to every school and child with access to internet connection. The organization aims to encourage children, through cutting-edge technology, to become active, conscientious global citizens.
The organization is backed with private funding and private sponsorship, but still seeks additional supporters to continue in the years to come, and bring even more destinations to the virtual classroom. Organizers say that educators from Harborfields, Cold Spring Harbor, Garden City and other districts as far away as Massachusetts and South Carolina, and even a few private schools, have expressed interest in bringing Your Virtual Passport into their classrooms.
Possible destinations this year include England, Istanbul, India, Italy and Australia. Also on the list, Tanzania, where Paige and her father started a school in 2007 and the idea of Going Global began. At each of these sites, Mackenzie, Austin and crew will film “A Day in The Life,” highlighting the lives of children in these locations; “Beyond Borders,” following interactions in the communities visited; and “Breaking Bread,” exploring the foods and cultures of different countries as well as many additional education clips that will include curriculum aligned to the U.S. Common Core standards.
Educators praise Going Global as a platform that helps preare students for 21st century challenges and bridge cultural divides.
"This program is a great classroom resource and teaching tool,” said Kiri Thompson, who teaches English and literature at Harborfields High School. “It allows students to connect to and learn about so many aspects of different cultures around the world that they would not be exposed to otherwise. We all benefit by encouraging our children to become global citizens."
“As the world becomes smaller with all of our technological advances, it is essential that students become aware of, and learn about, different cultures from around the world,” noted Jan Zanin, an elementary school teacher at Nags Head Elementary School in South Carolina. “If children learn at an early age, they will understand and appreciate the differences in cultures, and will be better prepared to work with people who have differing beliefs. What better way to teach them than to take them around the world with Going Globe?”
Mackenzie and Austin Sanborn seem eager to begin their adventure and connect with students across the globe.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all the people and seeing how they live, and trying new things,” Mackenzie said. “I’ll miss my friends, but we will be in touch through texting.”
Ditto for Austin.
“I can’t wait to see all the exotic animals and eat all the foods from different cultures,” Austin said. “I’ll miss all my friends but I’ll only be gone for three months, and the experience I’m going to have is going to be priceless.”