Global Education Glides onto Zoom

By Katie Rouse (II) and Jackson Dempsey (V)

Ambassador Lawrence Silverman ’73 shares expertise with students interested in international affairs. (Photo by: Katie Rouse)

During International Education Week, which took place from November 14 to 20 this year, Boston Latin School students were able to celebrate with a full week of summits, panels, performances and more.

 Coordinated by Mr. Thomas Kennelly, the History Program Director at BLS, along with the Clough Center for Global Education (CCGU), students were able to immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of people all around the world. On top of that, they learned about unique opportunities that could take them across the globe.

Although inaugurated by the U.S. State Department in 2001, the celebration of International Education Week has been happening at BLS for only the past several years. COVID-19 restrictions, however, have brought changes in the format of the week’s activities. This year, all 18 events hosted were virtual, each one featuring student performances, panel discussions and exchanges after school.

Two of the week’s highlights were the BLS Global Partners Fair and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Global Travelers Panel. The former was an interactive seminar where students chose which global program they were most interested in and heard presentations from organization representatives. At the Global Travelers Panel, students spoke on their experiences traveling abroad. In the past, these events were organized such that students could transition between different tables for different global groups, but this year, both were made accessible through Zoom breakout rooms. Even with this new setup, the events were still able to provide unique opportunities for students to expand their global understanding and connect with representatives from all around the world.

Sandy Nyugen (II), an attendee of the Global Partners Fair, says, “The […] Fair is really helpful for students with a similar passion for traveling as me as it gives insight into so many opportunities beyond the U.S. borders. I hope I’ll be able to participate in one of the programs in the near future!”

Other programs shifted smoothly to a virtual platform as well. Attendees could watch French concerts, global seminars, meet with U.S. ambassadors and visit numerous African communities, all from the comfort of their homes. This flexibility has increased global awareness for students that might not otherwise have had the chance to experience these interactions.

Students especially passionate about global interaction had the chance to share their enthusiasm by means of various activities throughout the week. Student-run cultural and linguistic clubs at BLS held presentations during the Global Partners Fair, and others put on concerts and performances during the Global Student Performers program.

One such passionate student, Xiangan He (I), shared his interest in international travel by speaking as a panelist on the Student Travelers Panel after studying abroad in Germany through CIEE last year. He says, “I want to let people understand the unique experience I had, because the experience CIEE gave me was similar to that of getting the keys to a whole new world.”

Despite students being quarantined at home, International Education Week offers them a way to further their understanding of countries and cultures, as well as to learn how they can become engaged global citizens.

Mr. Kennelly reflects, “Whether we are in school in our typical environment, or at home in a virtual environment, we are all still part of this global community, and International Education Week is an opportunity for Boston Latin School students to participate in these global experiences.”