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Area Nonprofit Wants To Help Young People Become Global Citizens

About 11 percent of Kentucky students in grades K-12 were enrolled in a foreign language course in 2014-15. That’s according to the American Council of International Education. That statistic is one of the reasons a local organization wants to get more high school students in the commonwealth to become more globally competent.

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is now taking applications for its new Global Citizenship Certificate Program. Beth Malcom, president and CEO of the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, served on the education committee that designed the program.

“Global competency is being aware of the world around you and that there are other lenses, perspectives, experiences, traditions that may differ from your own,” Malcom said.

She said the program would complement almost any field of study, including science and high-tech fields that are heralded by some as more lucrative and essential for the future.

Malcom said along with cognitive benefits, having a global mind and being multilingual can be beneficial for college admissions.

“There is a sense that Kentucky is not an international place but if you look at the manufacturing that’s here we have a huge, large number of international companies with plants and factories here,” said Xiao Yin Zhao, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. That includes companies like Toyota, she said.

Zhao said the council — a nonprofit based in the Portland neighborhood — is investing approximately $50,000 into the pilot program.

The Global Citizenship Certificate Program is a free, two-year program for high schoolers in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Students complete requirements such as language learning and attend events such as the Model U.N., culminating in a capstone project. The program will accept about 100 students.

Progress is tracked by an online application. Zhao said it is not lost on officials that some students may not be able to complete the program because of inadequate internet access or because some may not have globally-minded events nearby that meet requirements.

“When we did this we wanted to do something that is easily done by students and that’s why we went through a mobile application,” said Zhao. “We are completely aware of that digital divide.”

She said at least in this first year, more remote areas may not be ready for a program but coordinators can gauge interest from the number of applications from those areas and try to help those students in the future.

The application to the Global Citizenship Certificate Program asks for basic information about prospective students, questions about their interest and what they think they’ll get out of the program.

Applications are being accepted until October 15.

This article, written by Roxanne Scott, has been reposted from WFPL News.

Meet Some Iraqi Exchange Students Who Want To Change The World

Listen to the WFPL radio spot.

Thirteen exchange students from Iraq are in Louisville this week. The teenagers are part of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. While they’re here, the students visit education institutions and attend workshops on youth activism.

They’ll go back to Iraq and work on a community project around an issue they’re passionate about.

I caught up with the students on their break at the Big Four Bridge. I talked to them about their projects, what they do for fun at home, and about misconceptions some may have about their country. Listen to what they had to say in the player above.

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org
Ali Al_Behadili

“My project is about designing a dialogue group to inspire others about being more open-minded and celebrate the diversity. Because Iraq is so diverse. We have people from different backgrounds, different languages, different religions.” —Ali Al-Behadili, 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org
Zainab Al-Hilfi

“Just to be honest I want to be a pilot. But my mother said no so I have to be a doctor. I don’t have an opinion about my life. It’s all about your parents, the community. And I will work on that, actually. Like, through doing some dialogue groups.” —Zainab Al-Hilfi, 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org
Awab Abdulhadi Majid

“Here’s the thing: not all Iraqis are Arabs. Not all Arabs are Muslims. And not all Muslims are terrorists.” —Awab Abdulhadi Majid, 15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article, written by Roxanne Scott, was reposted from WFPL News.

A Battle Over Prayer in Schools Tests Canada’s Multiculturalism

Written by Dan Levin.
Read the original article on the New York Times.
Image Credit: The New York Times


MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — The troubles began over sermons.

For nearly two decades, Muslim students in the Peel School District, outside Toronto, had been allowed to pray independently on Fridays, part of a policy in many Canadian provinces to accommodate religious beliefs in public schools.

Last fall, the school board decided to standardize the prayer sessions and offer six preapproved sermons that the children could recite, rather than let them use their own.

Muslim students protested, saying the move violated their right to free speech, and the board reversed itself, allowing the children to write their own sermons.

But the dispute unleashed a storm of protest that continued through this spring.

Demonstrators are picketing school board meetings, arguments are eruptingon social media about whether religious accommodation is tantamount to special treatment, and there is a petition drive to abolish prayer in the public schools. In April, a local imam who supported the board received a death threat. The local police now guard the school board’s meetings.

The turmoil is one reflection of how Canada’s growing diversity is encountering powerful headwinds, especially in places with significant Muslim populations.

“Although we have a policy of multiculturalism, for most Canadians there is an expectation that immigrants will conform to the mainstream,” said Jeffrey Reitz, the director of the Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies program at the University of Toronto. “Religious accommodations have been made to various groups, and you’re going to get a backlash once in a while.”

The problems in the Peel schools are a particular kind of conflict in a diverse society, social scientists say — involving immigrants and minorities who challenge aspects of Canada’s cherished multiculturalism.

In 2015, socially conservative residents in Ontario school districts, some of them Muslimobjected to an updated sex education curriculum because it teaches the names of sex organs and broaches the topic of same-sex relationships.

Since 2013, some Muslim parents in metropolitan Toronto have asked schools to exempt their children from mandatory provincial music classes, citing their belief that Islam forbids listening to or playing musical instruments.

Like its neighbor to the south, Canada is a country of immigrants, helping to fuel a national ethos that celebrates diversity. More than 20 percent of the Canadian population in 2011 was foreign born, a figure that is expected to reach nearly 30 percent by 2031, according to government estimates. In cities like Toronto and Vancouver, the proportion of ethnic minorities could top 60 percent.

The demographic changes have been especially pronounced in metropolitan Toronto, a patchwork of cities and suburban towns bustling with an array of languages and faiths.

School boards like the one in the Peel district are at the forefront of the battles over multiculturalism. The district is among the country’s most diverse, with nearly 60 percent of all residents described as “visible minority,” or nonwhite, according to the 2011 census.

It includes large numbers of Chinese, Filipinos and blacks, but nearly half are categorized as South Asian, a group that includes Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. The Peel district is home to about 12 percent of Canada’s Muslim population.

In allowing prayer in its schools, the Peel district relied on a provision in the Ontario Human Rights Code that the Ontario Human Rights Commission has interpreted as requiring government-funded schools — both public and Catholic — to “accommodate” students in observing their personal faiths.

Other provinces in Canada have similar policies.

For Farina Siddiqui, 43, a Muslim activist whose children attend public and Catholic schools in the Peel district, allowing students to worship once a week in school is a matter of religious freedom.

“We’re not asking for schools to provide a prayer hall for everyone to practice a religion,” she said. “We just ask for the right to have a space to pray.” She supported permitting the children to write their own sermons.

Tarun Arora, 40, who works for an outsourcing call center company and immigrated to Canada from India in 2003, said school boards should not be endorsing sermons or allowing prayer in his children’s public schools at all. He wants the schools to be completely secular.

“I’m sending my kids to school for education, but the schools are being treated as religious places, and this is not right,” Mr. Arora said.

He is a member of Keep Religion Out of Our Public Schools, also known as Kroops, a group that formed in January when the board decided to allow the children to write their own sermons. The group has protested outside recent school board meetings and says it plans to bring a lawsuit challenging the policy of allowing prayer in the Peel schools, arguing that the law does not explicitly permit it.

Another group with a similar name, Religion Out of Public Schools, began an online petition to eliminate religious congregation and faith clubs in Canadian schools. It has garnered over 6,500 signatures from people across Canada and the United States.

Many of the petition comments specifically criticize Islam. But in interviews, three members of the group, all of them Indian-Canadian, said they opposed the practice of any religion in public schools, not just Islam.

Renu Mandhane, the chief commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, which is charged with interpreting the Ontario code, said schools had a duty to accommodate religious belief.

“Accommodation doesn’t equal endorsing or otherwise becoming entangled in religious practice,” Ms. Mandhane said. “Whether that requires prayer space in school, we’ve never said. What’s required is we need to reasonably accommodate a person’s beliefs.”

In an interview, she disputed the argument made by many protesters that the policy benefits only Muslims. She noted that Jews and Christians were already accommodated because their most important days of worship fall on the weekend, when schools are closed.

“In many ways, what we’re seeing in Peel is the edge where human rights and hyperdiversity connect,” Ms. Mandhane continued. “What Peel shows is that even in places with huge racial diversity, you can have people who identify with different communities but disagree about human rights issues.”

To the Peel school board and many Muslims in the district, the strife over religious accommodation is little more than Islamophobia.

At board meetings, protesters have screamed anti-Muslim epithets, while attacks against Muslims who speak out publicly have spread on social media, leading to the stationing of police officers at the meetings and outside schools. The imam who received the death threat also got an online message calling for his mosque to be burned.

During one fraught school board meeting, a man tore up pages of the Quran, stunning a community that had long prized its tradition of tolerance.

“These are people trying to fuel the fire and brew our ignorances,” said Rabia Khedr, executive director of the Muslim Council of Peel, which lobbied the school board in support of the students’ right to pray. “Religious accommodation is not at the exclusion of everybody. It’s at the inclusion of everybody.”

Anver Saloojee, a political-science professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, has another explanation. He noted that many of those speaking out against the religious accommodation policy were members of the Indian diaspora, including some vocal Hindu nationalists, suggesting that in some ways the battle in Canada mirrors South Asia’s historical Hindu-Muslim conflict.

But the groups opposing accommodation, which include people from a variety of races and religions, deny that. Indian-Canadian members of the groups say their concern has nothing to do with a country they left years and in some cases decades ago.

“My religion is Canadian; that’s what gives me the strength to stand up and fight now,” said Ram Subrahmanian, a founder of Keep Religion Out of Our Public Schools.

Shaila Kibria-Carter, 42, a finance manager of Bangladeshi descent, was born and raised in Canada and lives in the nearby town of Brampton. She said that as a Peel district high school student in the 1990s, she prayed in school on Fridays. So did her college-age son. There were never any class disruptions or complaints, she said.

“What these folks are doing is preaching hate,” she said. “We’ve lived in harmony with Sikhs and Hindus and white people all our lives, and now all of a sudden someone is in meetings ripping up a Quran.”

Congratulations to DuPont Manual High School!

2017 Academic WorldQuest™ Regional Competition, 1st Place: DuPont Manual High School
World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana

Team members: Agharnan Gandhi, Mark Raj, Aditya Mehta, Abilash Thout, Matthew Raj; Coach: Esther Tamplin

Congratulations to Coach Esther Tamplin and the team from DuPont Manual High School! This team placed 1st overall at the regional round of the World Affairs Councils of America’s 2017 Academic WorldQuest™ Competition! The competition was held at Bellarmine University on Saturday, February 4, 2017. They competed against 9 high school teams from across the region in a thrilling competition testing their knowledge of international affairs.

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is proud to have had this accomplished team represent our council at this year’s competition! Congratulations to their coach, Esther Tamplin, and the team! What a fantastic job! The team will head to Washington, D.C. in late April for the national round at the National Press Club on April 29th, 2017!

Interested in learning more about Academic WorldQuest™? Visit our Academic WorldQuest™ Page for more info!

Congratulations to DuPont Manual High School!

2016 Academic WorldQuest™ Competition, 5th Place: DuPont Manual High School
World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana

Team members: Shravan Ravishankar, Madan Subheeswar, Abilash Thout, Mark Raj; Coach: Esther Tamplin

Congratulations to Coach Esther Tamplin and the team from DuPont Manual High School! This team placed 5th overall at the World Affairs Councils of America’s 2016 Academic WorldQuest™ Competition! The competition was held in Washington D.C. on Saturday, April 23, 2016. They competed against 200+ high school students from across the country in a thrilling competition testing their knowledge of international affairs. Competition topics included:  NATO, Asian matters for America, international trade and finance, the Sultanate of Oman, privacy in the digital age, the Arctic, global food security, the organization of American states, great decisions, and other topics relating to current events.

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is proud to have had this accomplished team represent our council at this year’s competition! Congratulations to their coach, Esther Tamplin, and the team! What a fantastic job!

Interested in learning more about Academic WorldQuest™? Visit our Academic WorldQuest™ Page for more info!

Events

Multiregional – Education in the Digital Age

February 7–11


Seven teachers, government officials, and NGO workers from Bahrain, Greece, India, Japan, Maldives, Slovenia, Tunisia. They will be meeting with local schools and nonprofits to examine the ways developing technologies are impacting student learning.

A home hospitality host for this group has already been found. If you are interested in hosting this group of visitors for dinner in your home, please contact Visitor Programs Manager Laura Duncan, [email protected].