In November, middle school students in Bloomington, Indiana and their peers in China participated in a facilitated discussion on their vision of a sustainable community. The students were participants of the Global Citizenship Program organized by Global Citizens Empowerment, a 501c3 organization specializing in international education and high-quality cultural exchange programs.
As part of the discussion, students identified efforts in their own communities as well as habits in their own families that contribute to sustainability. Students discussed bike sharing, recycling systems, and renewable energy in both countries. They also identified actions they can take to help promote sustainability such as shutting off the lights before leaving home and using reusable grocery bags instead of plastic bags.
In the presentations from the Global Citizenship Program team, Michael Milner from Indiana University O’Neil School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Sophia Liao from Indiana University Hamilton-Lugar School of Global and International Studies discussed the concept of sustainability with students and offered examples from the U.S., China, and other areas around the world. Milner discussed the Long Beach Convention Center, the Los Angeles Ecovillage, and New Zealand’s Earthsong Eco-Neighborhood, while Liao discussed the Pumped Storage Power Station, protecting forests, and garbage classification in China.
“This kind of discussion and cultural exchange is rarely seen in conventional classrooms. It broadens the students’ knowledge on the topic of sustainability and allows them to learn and think about other communities around the world,” said Yvonne Zhao, founder and president of Global Citizens Empowerment (GCE). “We hope through this program, the students from both countries can learn from each other and develop awareness of other cultures at an early age.”
Global Citizens Empowerment is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that creates programs to advance cultural exchange experiences and global competence development for teenagers and adults. You can find more information about the organization by visiting their website: www.globalcitizensempower.org.