As part of a “rigorous global learning program,” students at St. Rose of Lima have spent the last five months learning about challenges facing children and families from around the globe — an experience that has changed how they think about the wider world
The Global Smarts Mentoring program – part of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia – is designed to spark students’ interest in international affairs. Participating students work weekly with student mentors to prepare position papers on two topics to debate at the local Jr. Model United Nation Conference. The program helps bring big issues facing other countries in focus for young learners, while educating them to meet curriculum goals of learning to research, to write persuasively, and to think critically.
The St. Rose team worked with mentors Megan Frye and Kailee Fisher, both students from St. Joseph’s University. They researched the topics for this year’s conference — water scarcity and child labor — in the Philippines and in Columbia. Two teams received awards for outstanding papers; seventh graders Na’ Dirah Baker and Star Hargraves and eighth graders Craig Ellis and Simone Daniels.
Heading into the conference, students were “well-prepared” according to their teacher Jason Lewandowski because of their “extensive research and knowledge” of the issues. Mentor Kailee Fisher attributes their knowledge to the hard work put in during weekly sessions.
“The St. Rose of Lima students are highly motivated and eager to learn. Each student brought unique insight and creative approaches to the presented material, which lead to engaging conversation.” — Kailee Fisher
During the conference held May 18th, students were required to act as delegates from their assigned countries. They discussed and debated with students from other schools in the city and the surrounding area, drawing on skills learned with their mentors including public speaking and an understanding of parliamentary procedures. Aiyanna Kinder, who represented Columbia on the topic of water scarcity, received special recognition during the conference for Outstanding Delegate.
Both Lewandowski and mentors Frye and Fisher agreed that all of the participants greatly improved their public speaking skills. For students, learning about the issues faced by others was most impactful because it changed how they think about the challenges facing others.
“Many children in the Philippines are forced to work at a young age in dangerous environments,” said Na’dirah Baker. “This program changed my thoughts on the world because I see how other people’s lives are different from mine.”