I started attending World Affairs Council events when I was a student in high school outside of Pittsburgh. Early on, this organization provided spaces and opportunities for students to be active participants in activities that shaped our outward thinking, particularly important for those of us whose small towns couldn't hold in our dreams of engaging with the whole big world, its people and cultures. In my junior year, my high school geography teacher nominated me for the WAC's Global Travel Scholar award, the Council's yearly scholarship that sponsors high students to participate in the Experiment in International Living summer program abroad. I still remember everything about the moment I received the phone call from Annie, who told me that the Council had chosen me to go to Turkey. Those 5 weeks in Turkey were the most defining time of my life, which I was able to have all because of the World Affairs Council. They saw that spark inside of me--the one that wanted to know all it could about the rest of the world-- and provided me with the experience that set it wildly aflame.
The World Affairs Council provides a place for students who want to engage with the world, who look outside of their own life experiences and yearn to understand those of others, who have the makings of Global Citizens. My relationship with the Council did not end after my summer as a Global Travel Scholar. David Murdoch, the then chairman of the board, became one of my closest mentors. He, along with the other members of the Council, always encouraged and supported me throughout every single step of my journey from college to beyond. The work that the Council does is crucial. In our world where the divisions between different peoples and cultures are only widening, the work that the WAC does, from high school global events to sending students across the world to live with host families and immerse themselves in another culture, is the work that is going to repair and strengthen the ties between us all as a humanity. It's a big statement, but after seeing the wonders that WAC and their Global Travel Scholars program accomplishes and the transformations that occur within students as they begin their journeys as Global Citizens, I firmly stand by it. I, for one, would not be where I am now without the World Affairs Council, and I am so thankful that they are there continuing their work for students like me.
I only became involved with the WAC of Pittsburgh this summer, but already it has provided me with so many incredible and life-changing opportunities. The people there are great and through the WAC, my eyes have truly been opened in regards to what I'm capable of and what I'd like to do later in life.
Through the World Affairs Council, I have been exposed to opportunities that I never could have imagined being able to do before. As a senior in a local high school, the Council has offered me countless opportunities at minimum costs that I have enjoyed greatly. From attending a conference on US-Cuban relations to a panel in which Muslim community leaders discussed the impacts that the election has had on their lives, the events and speakers that I have attended have enriched my learning and given me perspectives that I never would have considered. All too often we only hear one side of a story, and it was very refreshing to be able to hear the other side of the story, especially when it came to how Muslims felt about the 2016 election. By organizing this event, they were able to give a view that very few would have been able to see.
I am also a participant with an online program sponsored by the Council, which focuses on global issues and allows us a space to freely discuss current events and other interesting developments in the world. It also provides us with the ability to learn more about the world around us, which I very much enjoyed, since we were able to discuss topics that we were passionate about and learn new things as well.
It is also through the Council that I was able to better explore my cultural identity. As a first generation immigrant from China, I am very curious about other cultures, and the World Affairs Council partnered with the Nicholas Sparks Foundation to create a short documentary. (LinK: https://vimeo.com/165179621). It is because of these opportunities that I have been able to explore my passion, and a large part of why I decided to major in International Relations in college is due to the experiences that the World Affairs Council has offered me. The World Affairs Council offers truly phenomenal experiences that has really broadened my views of the world around me.
I found the World Affairs Council as a student and they helped me connect to some amazing speakers in my area on subjects I was really interested in! The speakers come from all walks of life and I've learnes to just go to as many as I can get to. They also run a great new free Global Leadership certificate for high school students that connects us with other kids in the Pittsburgh area also interested in our role as members of the world and global affairs in general. It has an online component, but my favorite part is meeting the kids who participate and attending the events that are a part of it. Everyone who works for the WAC is super helpful and passionate about what they do.
The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh has been able to provide a variety of dynamic programs and experiences to my students, building 21st century global citizens and leaders who understand their role in the world today. With the Council's help and resources, we have been able to start our own club at school, and I now have middle schoolers regularly discussing current events in a new and exciting way by talking about the ethics of governance, our moral obligations, and their role in making a positive difference in this world!
Pittsburgh's World Affairs Council has brought a variety of programs to the students at Our Lady of Grace School in Scott Township for several years. From global video conferences to international speakers, we have been able to collaborate with the council on a number of in-school programs. As a result of the interest sparked by the World Affairs Council, we have developed a world affairs club for students in grades 5-8.
Our students actually look forward to spending the extra time learning about their role in a global society, and they LOVE to talk about international issues! The Council and its programs like the Student Ambassador program for middle school students have been invaluable. They have ignited a spark in our kids that continues to glow and grow stronger each year! From the first day of school, students have been asking what our international theme for the year will be and what special activities the Council has planned for us. I know that I look forward to working with the World Affairs Council just as much as my students do, and I STRONGLY encourage others to get involved!
The World Affairs Council has opened my eyes to different cultures around the world. As a student in suburban Pittsburgh, it has given me a new perspective through video conferences with other teens around the world. Their programs have greatly influenced my goals and aspirations for the future.
I am a teacher at Upper St. Clair High School. The World Affairs Council has gone above and beyond in supporting academic achievement in our school. The programs they present to our students provide real world experiences and insights that compliment our classwork. Not only do they provide great programs, but they helped one of our students to make a contact with a Lt. Col. from the US Army War College who is an expert on Afghanistan. The student was able to conduct an interview with the Lt. Col. for insights into the "Peace and Conflict Studies" the student was preparing. Thank You.
The World Affairs Council literally "brings the World to Pittsburgh" by inviting international leaders, scholars, and decision-makers to Pittsburgh to share their insight on very timely events that shape our world. Council members and participants have the opportunity to meet and enter into discussion with these international leaders and experts. The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is a very vibrant organization. I had the privilege of visiting Brussels and Prague with fellow Pittsburgh professionals via the World Affairs Council- an opportunity to learn first hand about the European Union and the challenges facing Europe from economic and political perspectives. What a tremendous opportunity!!
The Worlds Affairs Council has been instrumental in directing the development of a virtual cross cultural exchange experience for high school students in the Pittsburgh area. As a support coordinator with CIEE they have offered me their expertise, support and partnerships allowing hundreds of high schools the opportunity to participate in a unique virtual classroom across cultures with participants spanning the globe from Brazil to China. Too name a few, students from Germany, Denmark, Brazil, China and America have come together throughout the school year to share ideas, thoughts, traditions and cultures in an effort to gain awareness and understanding about the cultural differences that exist. Through this project students from varying cultures are learning how to relate and respond to the differences that will not only enhance their current learning experiences but will impact their future as they prepare for college and the global workplace they will soon enter into.