It’s been one year since we implemented our Global Citizenship Certificate Program (GCCP), a program for high school students that encourages them to seek out and engage with different cultures in their community. We wanted to know what new experiences the program was creating for our students and what it was inspiring them to do next, so we had one of our summer interns, Ian Johnson of Centre College, conduct a few interviews to check in.
Since her sophomore year in high school, Isha Chauhan, now a Junior at Oldham County High School, has been participating in the Global Citizenship Certificate Program, an educational curriculum and community engagement program for high school students offered by the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
“It’s been really fun,” said Chauhan. “Me and my best friend do it together so being able to go to lectures and different competitions together has been really eye-opening for the both of us. The academic requirements mostly focus on taking away the big picture.”
Now entering its second year, the GCCP was created to help students reach the three goals of the Kentucky Board of Education’s Global Competency program: investigating the world and other perspectives, communicating with diverse groups and applying learnings through positive action. With 1 in 5 jobs in the state directly tied to international trade, global citizenship and competency are becoming necessities for ensuring that students are workplace-ready, both internationally and locally. The GCCP makes Kentucky just one of 11 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. that offer global education certificate programs to high school students.
Still, Kentucky continues to face challenges in global education. Currently, just 17% of Kentucky K-12 students are enrolled in a foreign language course and financial barriers remain high for many students from low income backgrounds seeking international experiences. The GCCP aims to increase the accessibility of global education to students of all backgrounds – there is no fee to participate and the application process is simple. Students complete a simple online application form and is invited to participate based on their interest. The value of the certificate is in its completion, not just participation.
GCCP students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. For Chauhan, this has meant taking Spanish courses, which influenced her decision to participate in a youth exchange program in Uruguay this past summer.
“Learning Spanish and being immersed in a culture with my host family was such an amazing experience,” said Chauhan. “My interest in doing the program only increased when I joined GCCP because it pushed me to become an advocate.”
In addition to coursework, students participate in international academic competitions, lectures, local cultural events, service projects or internships and complete a self-designed capstone project
at the end of the program that involves students’ individual interests.
“I would like to examine the language and cultural divide within Louisville’s Hispanic community by making an educational video,” said Juli Gomez, another participant in the program and a junior at Sacred Heart Academy.
“Coming from a Hispanic background, diversity has always been an important factor that I have sought throughout my life. The Latino population throughout the U.S. is on a gradual rise and it’s essential to understand the struggles that a vast percentage of our society faces.”
While Gomez expects to complete the program by her senior year, students may move through the program at their own pace over 2-4 years.
Both Gomez and Chauhan say they would recommend the program to other interested students.
“Enjoy yourself and bring a buddy,” said Chauhan. “I think many people are intimidated by the requirements but to me they are just guides to the new experiences I can have, the new people I can meet and the new food I can taste. I never would have learned the things I have if it were not for GCCP.”
Applications for the program are currently being accepted by the until October 15. The application along with more information about the program may be found at worldkentucky.org/certificate.