Regularly, my team and I have the opportunity to create or support amazing events that enrich curriculum and impact students in profound ways. Using video conferencing and streaming to bring the world into the classroom or connect students to “real life” is truly powerful. From seeing the astonishment of the “oh, wow!” or the “ah ha” look on students’ faces, I find joy in watching them grow and their knowledge expand. This week our special event at the United Nations and International School in Geneva brought one of those joys.
Green Cross International (GCI), founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, held a triad of events to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Celebration began Sept. 3rd with the day-long Earth Dialoguesconference then followed by the musical 2050: The Future We Want, both held at the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in Geneva.
A series of public forums initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev and Maurice Strong (architect of the Rio Earth Summit 1992), the Earth Dialogues conference aims to mobilize global public interest and action to promote important objectives essential to the future of humanity. Titled Pathways into the Future - Triggers of Change, comes at a time of deep crisis in multilateralism; with a lack of consensus and coordinated international action to respond to rampant ecological breakdown, globalization and disparities between rich and poor. Panelists included Nobel Peace Prize winners including President Gorbachev, former Kyrgyzstan President Rosa Otunbayeva, acclaimed oceans advocate Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Mohan Munasinghe, Vice-Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. GCI President Alexander Likhotal shared, “Thanks to Polycom, Green Cross was able to broadcast live a wide range of discussions by preeminent speakers and experts on the major challenges facing the world today.”
That evening, I tweeted along with parents, students and others worldwide as we watched the stream of the musical being performed at the Assembly Hall, Palais des Nations by dozens of young actors and musicians from around the world, including Syria, the United States, Indonesia, France, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Argentina, the UK, India, Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Mali, Botswana, Nigeria and the Bahamas. The message of how to be a global citizen even when you are young rang loud. Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, was thrilled to have an extended impact saying, "New media and technologies, such as web-conferencing, allow international organizations to reach a much wider public and encourage greater participation by youth groups and other civil society leaders in the international forums where policies are being decided which will forge our common future.”
The following morning, Paul Garwood and I facilitated an interactive dialogue among some of the musical cast and students at the International School of Geneva (ECOLINT) connected by video conference to students participating from NIGE school in Germany and Mate Masie school on the Cape Coast of Ghana. Students discussed topics, covered in the musical, to raise awareness of environmental issues and to encourage students to take ownership as global citizens with responsibility towards the planet. They shared reaction to the musical, findings from their research, and heartfelt stories. One of the most poignant moments in my mind was watching the exchange between Jela from Ghana and Joseph Terterian a cast member from Damascus. In Jela’s seeking to better understand the impact of current events in Syria, numerous faces lit up with an “oh wow” moment as they made the human connection.
Personally, I find it rewarding working with Green Cross International to help students discover the elements of sustainability, what it means to be a global citizen and how to take action towards a more sustainable future. Using video conferencing and streaming to extent the impact of amazing events such as the conference, musical, and student dialogue encounter is a great example of how together we bring curriculum-rich content that enhances learning and increases student achievement to schools worldwide.