Middle, Upper School Students Participate in Global Dialogue Series

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Middle, Upper School Students Participate in Global Dialogue Series
Jessica Yonzon, Director of Global Education

Middle and Upper School students participated in a series of student dialogues hosted by Global Education Benchmark Group in the 2020-21 school year.


Students in grades eight through 12 participated in a series of student dialogues across a number of different global topics this year, with Ravenscroft faculty members serving as facilitators or observers.The virtual dialogues gave students an opportunity to learn how to engage in respectful dialogue, communicate across differences and understand multiple perspectives around complex global issues. 

The series was hosted by Global Education Benchmark Group, a leading organization of K-12 schools that researches and establishes best practices in the field of global education and prepares students to thrive in increasingly interconnected world systems. GEBG, of which Ravenscroft is a founding member, supports schools through professional development, collaborative student and faculty travel, curricular development, conferences, a resource library and a supportive network of member schools. 

Below is a brief summary of each dialogue.

Youth Action for Global Causes (Upper School); Dec. 9, 2020
Student participants: Davis Anderson ’22, Alyssa Conley ’21, Daya Durham ’21 and Delaney Washington ’22
Faculty facilitator: Jessica Yonzon

Over 250 students from 13 different countries — Belarus, Canada, Chile, England, France, Ghana, India, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the United States — attending 43 different schools came together to discuss their perspectives. Student participants shared the causes that inspire them, and they collectively developed understandings about the competencies required to tackle these challenges, both today and in the future.

Davis said, “Being able to hear from people who not only speak from personal experience on issues I'm passionate about but are also living in areas where those issues are localized — for example, two students from India shared their perspectives on Hindu/Muslim conflicts in the region — was really rewarding. Our group actually set up a group chat on Instagram and are talking about potentially creating a blog or Instagram page for student activism. All in all, a really interesting and helpful experience that I appreciate being offered!”

Alyssa added, “I really enjoyed the dialogue. We talked about climate change, the justice systems, the different politics in different countries, creating change, and more. I really liked hearing about the different political systems in Spain, China, and India.”

Using Media to Make Meaning of the World (Upper School); Feb. 23, 2021
Student participants: Grey Alspaugh ’22, Andrew Guenard ’23 and Jack Shepherd ’22
Faculty facilitator: Jessica Yonzon

Students from 6 different countries — Canada, England, France, India, Turkey, and the United States — came together to discuss their perspectives. Students shared how they navigate the numerous sources and forms of media in their respective communities and what they think should be the future of news. 

Grey noted, “Some of the main points that my group and I discussed was really looking deeper into the news and not looking at the position-based information that could be wrong. I think this is important to do, so we can stop the spread of misinformation.”

This photo, from GEBG’s website, depicts students from around the world participating in one of their virtual Global Dialogues.

Global Perspectives on Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution (Middle School); Feb. 25, 2021
Student participants: Zoe Fitzpatrick ’25, Hannah Morgan ’25, Ethan Silverman ’25, Will Robbins ’25 and Henry Zhang ’25
Faculty observer: Alan Carter

Students from the USA, Canada, India and Romania shared the ways in which the pandemic has affected their lives and their communities. Topics included general discussion of COVID-19, its effects globally and on each nation, vaccine distribution efforts including successes and obstacles, and whether the vaccine should be mandatory.

Henry said, "My group talked about the stages and policies of vaccine distribution in each person's local areas. We talked about different solutions for vaccine distribution as well as their challenges, too, such as whether or not to create all those different phases. I found it a valuable experience because I've never thought about this problem in such depth and discussing it with people around the world is a really enriching experience." 

Faculty observer Alan Carter added, “With participants from India, Canada, Romania and other parts of the United States, our students engaged in a thoughtful, thorough conversation of these important issues with a diverse population of their peers from around the world. I was impressed with both the depth of knowledge that students brought to the conversation and the mature, respectful manner in which they discussed these sometimes contentious topics.”

Global Perspectives on Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution (Upper School); March 2, 2021
Student participants: Laurel Carter ’23, Brianna Donigan ’22, Olivia Hitt ’22, Mavi Sandhu ’22 and Kaela Spainhour ’22
Faculty observer: Melanie Spransy

Students from Canada, China, India and the United States shared the ways in which the pandemic has affected their lives and their communities. Topics included general discussion of COVID-19, its effects globally and on each nation, vaccine distribution efforts including successes and obstacles, and whether the vaccine should be mandatory.

Olivia said, “My group had some very good discussions about the distribution process and how to make it smoother along with what we could have done better to prepare for a pandemic. My main takeaway was probably that all these places around the world have very different systems and processes. When this kind of thing happens, it is sometimes hard to realize that many other places are going through the same thing and have their own way of dealing with it.”

Ethical Leadership: Climate Impact (Middle School); April 13, 2021
Student participants: Deanna Bennett ’25, Grant Corkum ’25, Kaia Ramakrishnan ’25, Keira Segars ’25 and Alexander Streich ’25
Faculty observer: Garrett Cummings

Students discussed the climate issues that matter the most to them; ethical dilemmas they have faced regarding the climate and how they responded to these dilemmas; and ways they feel they can be part of the solutions.

Deanna said, “My experience was very informative, and it was interesting to hear people's views and opinions from all around the world! We talked about things that sparked lots of interesting conversation!”

Ethical Leadership: The Rural-Urban Divide (Upper School); April 15, 2021
Student participants: Davis Anderson ’22, Brodie Batten ’22, Brianna Donigan ’22, Andrew Guenard ’23 and Delaney Washington ’22
Faculty facilitator: Jessica Yonzon

This dialogue welcomed students from Argentina, Canada, China, India and the United States to discuss the tensions between urban and rural communities that exist in their countries and communities; the historical, cultural, socioeconomic and societal reasons for these tensions; and the right way to move forward as community members and global citizens.

Andrew said, “The main takeaway I received from the student dialogue was that, while all places around the world are different, they all have similar issues. I had people from three different countries in my room and they all mentioned that their respective nations had the same issues with some variations.”

Delaney added, “My main takeaway from the dialogue was that the Urban-Rural Divide has historic and systemic origins that affect certain populations more than others. Covid-19 has also exacerbated certain effects created by this divide. We now see a large number of people moving from the North down South, which is inherently changing the typical Southern culture.

Leadership in the Time of COVID-19 (Middle School); May 4, 2021
Student participants: Elijah Smith ’25, Jai Gupta ’25, Jin Jeong ’25, Gaddyn Cole ’25 and Shea Baker ’25
Faculty observer: Christina Frazier

Nearly 100 students from four countries — Argentina, India, the Netherlands and the United States — explored questions on this topic, including:

  • What makes leading during the COVID-19 Pandemic so difficult? 

  • What types of solutions are leaders in your communities and country/countries pursuing, and to what extent are these solutions successful? 

  • How might leaders improve the way/s in which they are responding to the challenges of COVID-19? What role could you play in contributing to solutions in your local, national, and global communities?

This virtual student dialogue gave students an opportunity to learn how to engage in respectful dialogue, communicate across differences, and understand multiple perspectives around a complex global issue.

Jin remembered, “I really enjoyed listening to the different ways COVID-19 is being faced in different countries. I was particularly interested in India, since there has been a shortage of oxygen tanks for hospitals and a new wave of COVID. They expressed how much of a problem this is for India and how America and other countries have been helping. It really opened my eyes to how serious the oxygen problem was. I also gave a view on how Asian hate has risen in America. This was a serious issue, and as an Asian-American I had to bring it up in the talk to see if it was as common everywhere else as it was in America. Sadly the answer was yes, it did happen often. We also talked about the government and how they have been trying to solve the problem.”

Faculty member Christina Frazier said of the experience, “I was so impressed by the time and care our young people took to research and present their experience of leadership in the time of COVID-19. They were active listeners and engaged participants as students in India shared their experiences of the second wave of COVID-19 closing malls, then night curfews, then weekend lockdowns, and even fines and fees for bicycling without a mask. Our young people led the conversations and truly embodied the Lead From Here traits of changing their world through being adaptive, strategic, visionary, resourceful and reflective."