Some Schools Striving Toward “Global Awareness”


Across the Globe, the integration of other cultures is spreading. For example, Germany has extended its humanities education, learning about the full history of France and Spain.

In China, 70 percent of mail is now posted in English. In fact, English is the second most studied language in the world.

Across the globe, our country is commonly stereotyped “ugly America” due to the way we “arrogantly glorify our culture.”

This international sentiment can be best concluded by Lena Welitrich, junior, who thinks that “sometimes the American people are a little too proud of their country.”

In an effort to combat this stereotype, many school systems are beginning to stress “Global Awareness” programs.

In fact, established in 1967, the International Baccalaureate program, which focuses on “international relations in a global community,” has grown to more than 900 participating schools in more than 73 countries.

For some students in America, global awareness begins early. Wiley Elementary Magnet School incorporates an “International Program,” where children are required to learn one of five languages.

“Teaching languages when they are younger gives children an advantage in the future because people   absorb other languages and cultures easier when they are young,” said Kathy Jeffries, teacher at Wiley.

Wiley also hosts an “International Night” where families can bring food, music, and entertainment from different countries for a “night of global unity”.

“It’s good to introduce children to other cultures at this age because they are more likely to become more mature, open-minded adults in the future,” said Jeffries.

“Everything you learn about another culture broadens your horizons and allows you to learn more about the world in which we live,” said Craig Ross, Leesville Spanish teacher.

Since Leesville’s inception in 1993, four languages have been offered: Spanish, French, Latin, and German.

“Learning a language also provides many opportunities that you might not experience otherwise,” said Ross. “For example, I was able to work on an archaeological dig during college and I have traveled to a variety of countries, all because I studied Spanish.”

Elon University, located just outside of Greensboro, encourages its students to study in other countries.

Over 70 percent of Elon seniors study abroad before graduation, and many students receive international internships as a result.

At Leesville, while some students enjoy learning about the language and culture of another country, others feel language classes are a useless waste of time.

Blake Evans, sophomore, believes that “if you don’t want to learn a language, you shouldn’t have to.”

Foreign language teachers, like Ross, realize that many students share the same feelings.

“If a student is not interested in the language and willing to spend time and energy studying, then that student will most likely not have a positive experience with the class,” said Ross.

“Well, I mean this is America and the main language here is English. I don’t think languages should be that big of a deal,” said Evans.

Many Leesville students agree with Evans, but born in Germany, Welitrich disagrees.

Welitrich was expected to begin learning English in the fifth grade and an additional third language (either French or Latin) in the seventh grade.

“Americans are just lucky because their language was chosen to be spoken globally,” said Welitrich.

Call it pride or arrogance, most Americans only know one language—English.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, only 5.6 percent of the world’s total population speaks English as a first language. This number doubles when you consider those who speak English as a second language.

“I feel like Americans have this idea that they’re more educated than everyone else, and honestly, Americans are not as educated as they think if they can only speak one language,” said Welitrich.

According to Ross, learning another language can also be beneficial to the English language. “Many students have told me that studying another language helped them to better understand the structure of English,” said Ross.

Although many students hesitate to learn a new language, foreign language teachers encourage students to put their best foot forward.

“If students are open minded and willing to work a bit, they may learn that they really enjoy studying another language, and then it will prove to be fun and easy!” said Ross.


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