The United Nations website shares that: “The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve them all by 2030.”
Because these goals were formed by the United Nations, they are in no way specific to the United States. Therefore, the majority of the AFS partner countries are already using these goals in their orientation materials and in their school outreach efforts. To that end, it is important for the volunteers and staff of AFS-USA to understand what they are and how easily they can be used to establish relationships with schools.
When educators in the United States hear “Sustainable Development Goals” their minds tend to go straight to the environment, climate change and recycling. These 17 goals are so much more than that. They encompass challenges with human rights such as Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, No Poverty, Quality Education and so many others. They do have goals that focus on the environment like Clean Water and Sanitation, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Responsible Consumption and Production. There are still others like Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and Decent Work and Economic Growth that, although are not focused on the environment or human rights, are still important to improving the quality of life for all life on our planet. Therefore, it is important for us to share with schools that these goals exist and how they can use them in their schools from kindergarten to high school, and from English Language Arts classes to Art classes. The AFS-USA website has multiple lesson ideas and resources relating to how to implement the ideas around the SDGs into a variety of content areas at the high school level including SDG resources in multiple languages. AFS-USA staff created a Padlet with resources curated for a variety of grade levels about the SDGs that can be used to kick start or supplement any teacher’s lessons. Go to YouTube and search Sustainable Development for tons of videos that help to explain and teach about the Sustainable Development Goals. As an international project, AFS created the Effect+ Toolkit that has 6 modules each with 3 activities so teachers can teach students about the SDGs and intercultural learning at the same time.
These goals and the resources mentioned above can be great tools to start a dialog with ANY educator as you begin to create new school relationships. To learn more about how to use the SDGs as an Educational Tool, watch this webinar recording (or download the slides) featuring AFS-USA School Outreach Director, Jill Woerner, and Educator, Allison Haltom. By knowing about the SDGs and sharing these resources with educators, you are giving something to the school before you ever ask them to accept an exchange student. You can also use these tools to start dialogue with teenagers. The current generation wants to make a difference in the world. You can visit multiple school clubs to share about the SDGs and summer study abroad opportunities that are tied to the SDG themes. To learn more about connecting with clubs and extracurricular groups, please check out this article.