My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
My first experience with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh was through an International Student Summit held at our school in 2010. The video conferencing opportunities that they have partnered in have been invaluable to my students. Last year my World History classes travelled to Pitt’s campus to learn about Polio. The event there connected students in Western PA with schools around the world, including the Roots school in Pakistan. Later, they read a book by Dr. Trita Parsi (with donations and help from WAC) and then we hosted a video conference where our students represented countries debating Iran’s nuclear status. This year World Affairs brought us Dr. Seth Jones from the RAND corporation to teach our students about Afghanistan and Al Qa’ida. Our students moderated the news talk-show style event and schools in Western PA, Alaska, Texas, and Wisconsin tuned in. With help from our local AIU and WAC we were able to bring in a local news personality, Ken Rice, to help prepare our moderators and producers for our Afghanistan conference. In the Iran and the recent Afghanistan projects, my department was intimately involved in the planning and execution of the conferences. Dr. Sokol and Ms. Mahsoob care about my input as a teacher and listen to suggestions from teachers and students to make these conferences work for us. I had 11th grade students from last year come up to me and ask why they didn’t get to participate in the 10th grade’s Afghanistan conference!
Partnering with the World Affairs Council has also opened up many other opportunities for my students. This will be the third year that I will have a team participating in Academic World Quest. This competition is fun for the kids, and gets them to focus on world geography, flags, history, health, and more. Some of my students have participated in other academic competitions before, but they remark that World Quest is so fun that they actually can enjoy themselves. I know that this might seem unimportant, but they also make sure to provide vegetarian options at these events. Additionally, they will talk directly to the students, answering questions face-to-face, or even via email. It’s great that World Affairs offers opportunities for my students, but as a teacher, it’s even better that they clearly care deeply and validate the young people in our region.
I could stop there, but it gets better. Last year I nominated a student for the Global Travel Scholarship offered every year in partnership with the Experiment in International Living. The lengthy process was grueling, but in March last year we got the news that one of my 11th grade students was chosen for the travel abroad scholarship-- a 5-week summer tour in France. She spent 5 weeks in France going to Paris, to provincial France to learn the language, and to Lyon to learn the art of French cooking. Her life and the trajectory of her life has been changed forever. Because of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh she had the chance to travel abroad as a seventeen year old, and it has opened her eyes to new possibilities. Word has traveled around our small school about the opportunity to spend time abroad the summer before senior year. Our kids are starting to think globally.
I am constantly thankful for the partnership that my school has with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. I teach in a small school district, and many of my kids have not been outside of this state, let alone to another country. The World Affairs Council has brought international studies to the forefront of my classes. They care about Pittsburgh youth, and they work closely with teachers to make sure that what they provide to us is meaningful in our classrooms. The authentic learning opportunities that they offer through hosting and participating in videoconferences is helping my students understand and connect with people all over the country and the world. I could not recommend this organization enough.
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