Building relationships with schools usually starts with connecting with someone in the school. Who you connect with can differ in every school based upon the staff member’s interests, the local community, who has time available, and a myriad of other factors. One thing that tends to work well to get into a school is offering to discuss scholarship opportunities that may be available to students in the school. Another is offering free resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. Project: Change allows you to get into the door to do BOTH at the same time, but it does mean that you need to understand what Project: Change is and how it relates to schools.
Project: Change is ultimately a scholarship opportunity for students that is based upon the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This set of 17 goals, set into motion in 2015, was designed to both bring awareness to these global issues internationally and also to establish collaborative efforts around the world to improve the circumstances in one’s home country and abroad related to each of the goal areas. The goal areas focus on everything from human rights to the environment. Some of the goals include: Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Responsible Consumption and Production, and many more. There are numerous videos on YouTube, on the AFS-USA Project: Change website, and on the internet if you want to learn more.
Project: Change is designed to help expose students to the SDGs and to encourage them to act by proposing a solution for at least one of these global goals in one of the countries where AFS-USA has an established program. The scholarship application process typically runs throughout most of the fall semester and can be a great idea to share during International Education Week. The proposal essays by students will be reviewed and scored according to a rubric and there will be three winners announced in the spring. One student will win a full scholarship to go on the AFS-USA Global Prep Program (2-3 week short summer program) that pertains to the proposal that was submitted and two other students will win partial scholarships to do the same. All students will get the opportunity to learn more about the SDG and the actions that are being taken in the country that they investigated while they are on a Global Prep program. Ideally, they will report back to their school after the summer in which they participated to garner more interest from their classmates.
As an educator, the SDGs can be a cornerstone for almost any content area at virtually any grade level. For example, kindergarten students can understand the concept of Zero Hunger on a basic level. They can discuss it and how to have an impact in eradicating it in their local community/school/classroom. High school students have a higher capacity to engage and act on the information they learn from the SDGs and process a more thorough plan to make a change both locally and abroad. AFS-USA has numerous lesson plan ideas for teachers that want to integrate the concepts above into a full unit of study throughout the school year, and all of the ideas are tied to that content area’s academic standards for learning.
The AFS-USA Marketing Department has created handouts and has materials available for volunteers and staff who want to share this information with schools. The one-page handout for students is perfect for going to a college fair, for an extracurricular fair, and for any booth at an event where students will be visiting with AFS-USA! The one-page handout for educators is perfect for any conferences or events with teachers or school leaders. One added thought is to consider how well this integrates with the world language curriculum where the teachers need resources in the language that they teach. Here’s a link to a website where they will find information about the SDGs in that language just by clicking on their language in the top, right-hand corner!