Thursday, May 16, 2013

Teaching Tolerance Globally - Angela Jackson, Founder Global Language Project

Dr. Christoper Stone
Hunter College

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. One of GLP's champions, Professor Christopher Stone was injured last week while on Sabbatical in Egypt. Professor Stone is the Chair of the Arabic Department at Hunter College.  He was also recently appointed head of the US-based Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) by the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Stone is someone who is a great advocate for the Middle-East region here in the states.  The news accounts state that he was visiting the US Embassy when he was approached by his assailant and asked in Arabic whether he was Egyptian or American. When he replied in Arabic that he was American, the assailant stabbed him.

The incident amplifies why global education and tolerance should be a mandatory component in elementary school curricula worldwide . Cultural understanding, tolerance and appreciation helps to prevent people from painting entire races and cultures with one brush stroke.

In an instant, Stone’s life work and support of the Middle East were erased just because he was American. As a people, we need to begin to intentionally teach that the actions or non-actions of one person or a small group of political leaders do not necessarily reflect the sentiment of an entire community or people.

Growing up, I attended a middle school that was predominantly white. While attending this school, some of the students would refer to me using racial epithets.  Based on this experience, I had a choice.  I could have chosen to believe that all people who were Caucasian were racist or decide that these students were the minority and were ill-informed.

My work with GLP aims to give children a leveled experience where they can make informed decisions as to how they will view and process today’s current events, and how they will choose to relate to an ethnically and racially diverse world that is becoming increasingly interconnected . As we teach languages, we also teach an appreciation and respect for other cultures and ways of life. In the process we let these students know that how they will decide to perceive others and the world around them, can be a choice based on a worldly and cultivated ethos of global citizenship.

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