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Gaining a Global Perspective

We started our discussion with the following two questions.

First, what are you doing in your school to help your students connect to a larger global understanding of the world? Second, how do you make room for students of other cultures and countries to come to your school?

Christian Altena:

Greetings to all from a beautifully snowy Chicago.

As soon as I saw the prompt for this issue, I immediately felt convicted. This is an area in which my school and I could stand to make many strides forward. Our school has a growing international student program and we have long welcomed foreign exchange students. We sponsor mission trips to Central America and recently wrapped up this year’s Operation Christmas Child campaign. These are wonderful things, but I would like to see us take more steps of faith; more steps like last year’s fundraising campaign for a school in Nicaragua called Tesoros de Dios. They needed a new bus and Chicago Christian High School raised $10,000 to meet that need. Our school needs to take more steps like those taken by Surrey Christian School in British Columbia, Canada, who sponsor and maintain long-term relationships with schools in Africa and Central America.

A significant drawback of teaching in our school association is the lack of diversity and our hesitant and short-lived connections to other cultures. Scanning the faces at the Christian Educators Association convention this year in South Bend, or in the break room at school, demonstrates that this is a very real concern. Certainly this is changing–and changing quickly in some of our schools. Yet, when being a white Methodist from Ohio makes you the most diverse member of the teaching staff, it suggests that there is still work to be done.

I am excited about the possibilities. CCHS is extremely well placed to reflect such a cosmopolitan city as Chicago. We kept the name after we moved in the early 1960s, but ironically became more inclusive out in the suburbs. I pray that God shows us how to better become the school for such a time and place as this.

Rebecca DeSmith:

At Sioux Center Christian School (SCCS), we usually organize a Christmas project to raise money for mosquito netting for people in India, or we donate canned goods to a local food pantry. While these are good projects to raise awareness about the needs of others around our world, they are “special” projects that are not integrated into our curriculum. [This is only part of the article. Want to read more? Subscribe to the website by choosing "Register" from the menu above. It's free!]

The panel consists of:

Christian Altena, who teaches at Chicago Christian High School in Palos Heights, Illinois.

Justin Cook, who serves as the Director of Learning at the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools in Ancaster, Ontario.

Rebecca DeSmith, who serves as Discovery Program coordinator and teacher at Sioux Center Christian School.

Gayle Monsma, who serves as the Executive Director for The Prairie Centre for Christian Education in Edmonton, Alberta.

John Walcott, who is assistant professor in the education department at Calvin College.