Monday, April 29, 2013

Different Interests, One Goal: Mobilizing Support for World Language Education by Angela Jackson, Founder and Executive Director, Global Language Project

GLP Executive Director Angela Jackson (second from left) and
GLP Board Chair Justyn Makarewycz (far right) with event attendees
at My Dream Speaks
On April 11th, 2013, Global Language Project hosted its 2nd annual benefit, My Dream Speaks, to a host of positive feedback and support. What struck me about this year’s benefit was the sheer diversity of professional backgrounds that constituted our audience. I was amazed, after conversing with many, to learn about the different interests that have driven each individual to become invested in world language education. I realized then that what has been so key to GLP’s efforts to mobilize support is the idea that world language education holds different stakes for different people.

GLP Students:
Our students, whose voices are the most important here, experience learning a second language as a way to excel in their current academic subjects, to interact in new ways with their peers, and to realize their capacities for affecting change in their own communities.

GLP Parents and Educators:
The parents of our students and their teachers situate the importance of foreign language learning with other stakes in mind. Knowing a second language is a way for students to empower their local communities in the short and long term. Because teachers and parents have a more intimate knowledge of the kinds of struggles with self-conception and self-confidence that some of our students who live in neighborhoods plagued by systemic inequities confront, what knowing a second language means carries a different but no less important kind of weight for them.

GLP Students at the My Dream Speaks Benefit
Corporate Sector:
I have found that those who work in the corporate sector tend to view the importance of world language programs as a means for students to become competitive in an increasingly globalized workforce. 

Social Entrepreneurs:
Social entrepreneurs situate the importance of language on multiple registers—students who know another language can help to create and lead business practices that are more socially responsible and oriented towards a more multicultural audience.

So what does this mean for initiatives that seek to expand foreign language opportunities to young people?  A guiding question for me has always been, how do we get people with such different backgrounds, priorities, and interests to coalesce around something like world language education? What I have found in my experience, whether it be in organizing a major fundraiser, a small luncheon of business executives, or a day of celebrating the Chinese New Year in the classroom, is that these different interests do not have to be antithetical to one another. In fact, the differences are productive—they enable new kinds of relationships between people you would hardly see interacting with one another—hedge fund managers with the local school principal, media executives with NGO program directors, parents with leaders of government initiatives on language.  What they all have in common is that they value a second language. The relationships they produce have only helped GLP to continue to make the case that language is indeed a means towards multiple kinds of ends.

To see more photos of GLP's My Dream Speaks Benefit Reception, click here!

No comments:

Post a Comment