Tag Archives: global studies

168 Reasons Why We Walk for Water

By Celeste Kettaneh ’20

All year long, we Americans tend to use water mindlessly.

Whether it be taking a shower or leaving the faucet running, our water-wasting habits are ingrained. Unlike many places in the world, we have the privilege of taking 60-minute showers and over-watering our plants.

While we use our limited supply of “infinite” amounts of water, others beyond our borders are suffering from diseases caused by their poor water treatment. In some places, it takes a three-mile journey, sunburned shoulders, and empty plastic gallons for a family to get their daily supply. Our separation in water collection expands beyond miles, literally and metaphorically. While we put on our faucets, others put on their shoes to walk for their water.

As a part of the WE Charity, an international charity and education partner based in Canada, schools all around the world were challenged to raise money to change these conditions. They planned to build wells from all the money collected where communities needed it most. The motive was pure: every $25 raised gave one child clean water for the rest of their lives.

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The World Needs More Rockwell

Norman Rockwell would have loved MPA. Way ahead of his time, in the 1950’s, he viewed himself as a citizen of the world. He would have appreciated our diversity, our global perspective, and our acceptance of one another. As Americana as Rockwell was, he was also a man who understood the interconnectedness of the world he was part of, the need for global understanding, and a man who, through his talent, cleverly forced his fellow citizens to come to terms with the injustice, discrimination, and bigotry in the society of which they were a part.

rockwellitHis painting “Golden Rule” (pictured right) is a famous image that was created for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. This beautiful image is not unlike the United Nations, the organization it was produced to commemorate, or MPA for that matter, in that it is both multicultural and ideal in the sense that it is reflective of a world in harmony and a reminder of our shared humanity. The “Golden Rule” first appeared on April 1, 1961, as a dedication to the United Nations to “reflect his appreciation for humanity as a citizen of the world.” Think of what a revolutionary idea that was in the 1950’s! The UN later adopted Rockwell’s image and today, a mosaic of it hangs in their headquarters in New York City, reminding us that, “it is about narrowing the gap between the world as it is and the world as we want it to be.”

Rockwell painted this at a time that challenged the world as it was and, in retrospect, helped to define what we, as Americans, actually wanted the world to be: The 60’s, a decade that addressed the injustice of social issues. Segregation. Integration. Bus boycotts and sit-ins. Religious intolerance and women’s rights. The War on Poverty. The Greensboro Four, Rosa Parks, Kennedy, and MLK. A time when “Do Unto Others” was too frequently interpreted to mean “Do Unto Others who look like you.” And here was Rockwell, confronting the hypocrisy of the world around him and creating this beautiful image of an America he envisioned –  a collection of global peoples, laying it out for the rest of America to digest and, in the comfort of their own homes, reconcile who they were, with who they wanted to be. The world today needs to take a fresh look at Rockwell.

On October 24, the world will commemorate the UN’s 71st anniversary. All these years later, we are still striving to answer Rockwell’s challenge and close the gap between who we are as Americans versus who we want to be. Are we the nation Emma Lazarus saw or are we a divisive, bitter people, fearful of our neighbors? The UN can help us reconcile these differences. Its creation out of the most catastrophic and deadliest war in history, its mission to maintain peace and security, and its additional responsibilities of fostering self-determination of peoples and promoting basic human rights around the world make it the model schools should look to when we talk about global education, the continued strive for a world of peace, and our interpretation of Rockwell’s image of the “Golden Rule.”

Last year the UN developed 17 goals for sustainable development which take aim at transforming our world by 2030. Putting an end to poverty and hunger, guaranteeing education, teaching about responsible consumption, reducing inequality, and the rest of the goals remind us that we are all connected and are deserving of these basic human rights.

In order to accomplish this and introduce global awareness in the classroom, here are some ideas we should consider when working with our students:

  1. Understand that education is about relationships. It is a human experience and human beings are complex. Interestingly, recent studies have shown that the type of college one chooses has little to do with success later in life, but connections to the real world, becoming a “do-er” in the educational process, and finding at least one teacher who challenges you, does!  
  2. Empathy is critical to a strong global program. Without it, it fails. Understanding the perspective of others is critical and powerful to building peace.
  3. Cultural humility is key. As teachers, we need to create experiences that allow our students to understand that the world they are a part of is big. This generates humility, which creates the space for empathy to develop.
  4. Reflection is critical to the learning process and the creation of global citizens. Use reflection activities in the learning process such as:” I used to think” and “Now I think…”
  5. There are multiple opportunities to globalize our curriculum. This requires continued reflection and support of all teachers, not just those in the humanities.

As we approach the UN’s anniversary, it is my hope that we see this as an opportunity to take a good, long look at Rockwell’s image, its message, and reflect on the kind of person and educators we aspire to be.

By Colleen Amberg

Ms. Amberg teaches Middle School English and Social Studies. She is also the Director of Global Learners Program.


What We’re Doing Right – Reflections from the AMLE Conference by our Director of Global Learners Program

How do you know if your child has received a good education? How do you determine its value?  I wrestle with these thoughts nearly every night. With the pace that the world is changing, the number of unknowns for our children, the interconnectedness of the world today, and the fact that the jobs in biggest demand today did not even exist 15 years ago, I often wonder if schools are doing what is truly best for our children.  Is their education (my new favorite word) life-worthy?

ambergRecently, I attended the AMLE Conference in Columbus, Ohio and had the privilege of hearing from and meeting and speaking with two big names in education: Dr. Yong Zhao and Dr. Nancy Doda. I walked out of the conference inspired to meet new colleagues to discuss the current trends and ideas in middle-level teaching, though apprehensive that my instincts would be confirmed. Sadly, they were and I discovered that the AMLE community as a whole is troubled by what is happening to children in the educational system in our country.

However, I was lucky to be reminded of how fortunate I am to be a member of an independent school. Concerns over standards, the Common Core, No Child Left Behind were all main points of discontent in every session of my conference but thankfully don’t affect me as a teacher or my students as they do in the public schools. In Ohio, I heard from school leaders and teachers whose schools test kids so frequently their kids hate school; schools that have had to take away the arts, advisory, and P.E. so they can focus on the core subjects; schools whose teachers’ jobs are tied to their students’ performances on these tests. I walked away more worried about the public school system and more thankful that I belong to an educational community that does so many things right by our children:

  1. At MPA our small class sizes make it impossible for a student not to be known. This is important at every age. And as Dr. Doda put it, “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” Even the best teacher would have difficulty reaching and connecting with every child when you have 35-40 students (or more) in a class!
  2. Our school not only encourages but celebrates creative, divergent thinking. In public school, high stakes testing pushes towards convergent thinking: one right answer when we should be teaching our students (and our teachers) that there is not always one right answer. allows us as teachers to encourage divergent thinking skills and the creative thought necessary to create the jobs of tomorrow.
  3. In many places around our country, “the tyranny of testing” has replaced “the magic of middle school.” Thankfully, at MPA, we are not tied to tests. Zhao said, “There is nothing wrong with standards, but standards lead to standardization, which in turn leads to homogenization.” Think about it; why are schools focusing on sameness when homogenized jobs will be outsourced or done by machines? At MPA we pride ourselves on nourishing the independent thinkers, the question askers, and work tirelessly to help each student find their voice.
  4. As an educational institution, MPA is not a factory system or even a broken factory system model. We aren’t interested in “cranking out sausages”, as Dr. Zhao called the US system, that accidentally, occasionally cranks out a piece of bacon (A.K.A. Steve Jobs)! At MPA, we start with the celebrated belief that each child is different, strive to meet each child where they are, and help them grow from there.
  5. At MPA we focus on global awareness and service. Think of all the other parts of the child that are lost when we focus on only test scores: resilience, passion, empathy, friends, confidence, risk-taking, and so much more. Celebrating our interconnected world and instilling in our students the responsibility to help others not only helps students find other things they might be good at but, more importantly, it also shows them that there are things in life far more valuable, self-fulfilling and life-worthy than test scores.
  6. One of the most insightful notions that came out of my conference was the concern raised by many teachers that with loss of teacher autonomy in the classrooms and the increasing scripting of curriculum, they see democracy dying. They were largely concerned with the fallout from this, how it will impact their students, and, ultimately, our society. Thankfully, democracy is alive and well in the classrooms at MPA. Kids are given choices; we vote on issues; we have processes in place for students to introduce items, clubs, and issues they are passionate about. We provide numerous leadership opportunities for all students and encourage every student to find their voice. Students share their work, run assemblies, and celebrate their culture. If education’s most important job is to promote the welfare of students, then by teaching them the principles of democracy in the classroom shows them how powerful the individual is and how powerful they can be. What greater gift can we give them, ourselves, and society?

While I realize no place is perfect, I have to say that sometimes it takes a walk in my neighbor’s yard to remind me of what a beautiful home I have. Perspective really is everything. I came back from AMLE thinking, “We might not be perfect, but we’ve really got it good”.

By Colleen Amberg

Ms. Amberg teaches Middle School English and Social Studies. She is also the Director of Global Learners Program.

My Project Week Trip to India


By Vincent Oganwu ’17

Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, which this year included a Project Week trip to India.

This trip to India was definitely a life-changing experience. We participated in various activities ranging from traveling past the Himalayas, to seeing the Dalai Lama, visiting the Taj Mahal, and participating in service projects.

[Read more about this trip and view our explorers’ photo gallery.]

Prior to the trip, I was anxious and a bit nervous; however, I was eager to explore, learn new things, and to interact with new people! Upon arriving in India, we quickly adjusted to the new atmosphere,people, and culture. After we deplaned, I was very excited to finally be in India, after many long hours of travel. We traveled from Chicago to Zurich, then from Zurich to New Delhi.

India is a country of rich history and culture, that has evolved over the years. The cities we visited include, Agra, Amritsar, New Delhi, and Dharamsala. In all of the cities we visited, the people I interacted with were very kind and excited to see an American tourist. By talking with the Indian civilians, I was able to get a different and more relatable view on what their lives are like.

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My Project Week Trip to Hawaii

Chicago Private Schools

By Theo Covello ’18

Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, which this year included a Project Week trip to Hawaii.

Before this Project Week trip, I thought that beaches, beautiful scenery, and relaxation was all that Hawaii had to offer. But I learned that Hawaii has so much more within its many islands, including a wealth of science and history and some of the most interesting geography, coral reefs, and water life in the world.

On this trip, we delved into all of this and more as we explored the beautiful island of Oahu. We learned the significance of coral reefs and how many species depend on them. We swam with some of Hawaii’s well-known sea turtles and learned about their lifestyle and the threats to their survival. We hiked Diamond Head and learned about the formation of these volcanic islands.

[Read more about this trip and view our explorers’ photo gallery.]

Many of the historical sites we visited were the location of struggles for control of Hawaii. We saw where many warriors fell to their deaths in a brutal battle for Oahu. We visited the grand Iolani Palace, home to many Hawaiian monarchs, and we also learned how the United States came to annex Hawaii and end that monarchy.

Chicago Private Schools

We also explored Hawaii during World War II. On Diamond Head, bunkers that were built during the war still remained. We went to Pearl Harbor, and this was probably my favorite part, because I like to learn about the two world wars that changed the world in so many ways.

Pearl Harbor itself had multiple stories. A guide gave us a very detailed account of the attack. Our group took a ferry out to the USS Arizona memorial, and learned how she was bombed and exploded, taking over a thousand men with her. Then we went around the harbor to the USS Missouri, saw the surrender documents that ended World War II, and explored the massive battleship.

Of course, we also enjoyed the island’s beautiful beaches. But what I liked most about this trip was finding out what Hawaii truly is — how it got there in the first place, how it came to be as it is today, and how life exists and around the islands.

The trip allowed me to truthfully and fully say that Hawaii is indeed a spectacular place.

Theo is a freshman at Morgan Park Academy.

Want more from Global Week? Check out stories and photos from our other trips.

My Week at a Spanish-Language Immersion Camp


By Elijah Moss ’19

Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, including Spanish- and French-language immersion for eighth-graders at Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota.

I really enjoyed the trip because I learned so many new things and it was a whole new Spanish experience.

I tried a lot of food that I know I wouldn’t try in Chicago. There was a new food every day and a variety of flavors. I absolutely loved the activities and thought it was a great addition to the village. With each activity, you learn something new. I never knew Carmelo Anthony was half-Puerto Rican!

[Read more about this trip and view the photo gallery.]

They gave out el globo necklace charms if you spoke Spanish all week and were a good participant; it feels great because everyone cheers for you in Spanish. My favorite activity was the dancing. I had the opportunity to learn how to salsa and bachata.

Mika was an excellent teacher. I also had great counselors who were very funny. I loved hearing every day from Captain Hispanic, our Spanish version of Captain America! It was a fantastic experience!


Elijah is an eighth-grade student at Morgan Park Academy.

Want more from Global Week? Check out stories and photos from our other trips.

My Project Week Trip to India

justus india

By Justus Pugh ’16

Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, which this year included a Project Week trip to India.

Our experiences in India ranged from breathtaking to heartbreaking.

As soon as we landed, it felt as if we were in an entirely different world. The architecture, the people — even the air was different!

We spent time in the cities of Dharamsala, Agra, Amritsar, and New Delhi. Each city we visited was a completely different type of amazing, and I learned so many different things from every one.

[Read more about this trip and view our explorers’ photo gallery.]

Dharamsala gave us a look at the world from way up in the mountains! We got a chance to see the beauty in nature and service, and experience the culture of the Tibetan people.

india mountain

Agra was a city of beauty in history, where we toured the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, both places of ancient and exquisite architecture.

Amritsar showed us the beauty in giving and acceptance. We observed Sikh practicioners at the illustrious Golden Temple, where they feed up to 100,000 people every day!

Lastly, the city of Delhi was where we experienced the harsh realities of the world we lived in. Poverty was everywhere, reminding us all just how fortunate we are to live comfortably in America.

india city

Venturing all over the country on trains, cars, and buses while seeing so many different aspects of the rich Indian culture was an experience unlike any other — one that can never be relived, duplicated, or replaced!

Justus is a junior at Morgan Park Academy.

Want more from Global Week? Check out stories and photos from our other trips.