USA: Global Village Membership

USA: Global Village Membership

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If you’re a parent, or a child, or anyone, you may have heard the phrase. “It takes a village” (to raise a child). After reading a post written by a fellow contributor, KC, I remained in thought about this village that’s needed to raise our children.

KC is currently a stay-home-mum to a precious toddler, so you know she has one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the universe; one weighted with a lot of responsibility, as well. Thankfully she takes the time to write about some of what’s going on in her world as a mum, a woman, and as a person, because out of her writing I found something I want to discuss, too. Check her out at http://www.mummyintransit.com.  She is a really good writer, and she’s funny too.

In reading KC’s post I thought about my own experience as a child in Italy, a teenager in Tanzania, and an adult and parent in the United States. What was my village like? Who did my mum include in forming my personality and my worldview?

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ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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USA: Au Revoir and Thank You, Madame Warren

USA: Au Revoir and Thank You, Madame Warren

Mrs. Linda Warren

One day this spring, after taking the kids out to dinner, I checked my Facebook feed before I set out to drive home. I saw the news that my high school French teacher, Mrs. Warren, had passed away.

I began to drive home, and I felt such an emptiness, and I began to cry. I hadn’t seen Mrs. Warren since I graduated high school in 1994. That was 21 years ago. But, the impact she made to my life was so grand that I didn’t realize that there was a part of her that was always with me.

Mrs. Warren was an amazing French teacher. However, her greatest impact was not what she taught us about French, but what she taught us about life. For me, she was a teacher who peeked through hypothetical doors with her students, and said, “Look what is possible!”, and then said, “Go do it!” She listened to us, and she knew that we all had different wants and needs.

I remember that Mrs. Warren had a husband and two sons who she loved and spoke about very much and who were very into camping. So ironic because she, herself, belonged walking the streets and museums of Paris.

Every year she arranged to lead a bunch of school kids to France after school let out. She treated us all like her own. In the 1990s we had lectures at every step of the way: about the value of the Franc at that time compared to the dollar, our safety and what not to do and what to do in the French culture. She went over everything and then set us free to make our own decisions.

She led us up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and as much as she treasured the view, she seemed to be more excited about us seeing it for the first time.

Before this trip, I had only been on an airplane once to go to Florida and my parents had never been out of the country at that time. Mrs. Warren extended our boundaries. She taught her students that there was life outside of Brick, New Jersey, USA and how fun and interesting it was to explore the world!

The next year, after having exhausted my summer job savings on the trip to France, Mrs. Warren told her class about a scholarship competition from our town’s Board of Education for a summer foreign exchange. Since I had already been to France, I chose Japan because I yearned to see more of the world, and it was the country I knew the least about on the list. Everyone else who was applying chose a country which coincided with a language that they were learning at school. I realized that I had to come up with a different strategy for my essay and interview because I didn’t know any Japanese.

I wrote down all the stereotypes of Japan that I could think of and explained that I needed to go to Japan to get answers to questions such as, “Were the Japanese really obsessed with American baseball?” and, “Did the women walk around in kimonos everyday?”

However, although it was a very formidable obstacle, winning over the Board of Education, wasn’t the toughest thing in my way to get to Japan. After telling my parents about the scholarship for the foreign exchange, they said that I wasn’t allowed to apply.

As I mentioned before, my parents had never traveled internationally at that time, and I had extended them beyond their comfort zone when I went to France. But Mrs. Warren had been with me for that trip, and she had reassured them at the time, so that had been ok. This was different. There was no way they were going to allow their 17-year old daughter to go to another country on her own when she didn’t know the language. So, that was that.

Well, not really. I wrote and submitted the essay anyway. Not quite Malala standing up to the Taliban for her right to an education, but for me, it was rebellious.

My mom actually came into my room the night I was writing the essay and asked what I was doing. I didn’t lie. I told her the truth. I assured her that I probably wouldn’t win anyway and writing the essay was good experience for me. She looked at me, gasped in disbelief, and then since it was so late and she was tired and going up to bed, she said, “Ok, just don’t tell your father.” So, I didn’t tell him.

I remember the day I was in my AP Biology class and Mrs. Warren was standing outside the door. I had no idea why she was there. I waved to her and she kind of hid. I thought it was strange. It turned out she was trying to surprise me, and when I got out of class, she handed me a folder from the nonprofit foreign exchange organization, Youth for Understanding, and beamed as she gave me the news…

I couldn’t believe it!! I had won the scholarship, and I was going to Japan!! But, OH, NOOO!!!! Mrs. Warren didn’t know that my dad forbade me to apply. I had to tell her. So, I did.

My mom worked at the time as a teller at a bank, and without my knowing, Mrs. Warren went down to the bank and spoke with her. What teacher goes through the trouble and gets involved like that? Linda Warren did.

Mrs. Warren’s support justified to me that dreams were possible. That anything was possible! Even getting past my strict father and his sometimes totalitarian rule. (He doesn’t read my blog, so I can be all high school dramatic like that here.) It took a lot of convincing, but I did finally get permission to go to Japan for the summer. And, it definitely was one of the best experiences in my life.

Since Mrs. Warren encouraged me to travel internationally as a student, I have now visited sixteen countries. But perhaps some of the best things that have come out of my love of all things international are my English husband who also loves to travel, and the amazing opportunities the women at World Moms Blog and I have created together. We’ve spoken on a panel at the World Bank in support of the universal education for all children; accepted invitations to the White House and the United Nations; been on various delegations around the world to view health and education programs, and I still feel like we’re just getting started!

I can’t help but think that World Moms Blog may not have been, if I didn’t have Mrs. Warren’s support and invitation to the world when I needed her most.

Au revoir and thank you, Mrs. Warren. I am so grateful for your life. You are an inspiration. You are very missed, and I promise, I know now that everything IS possible. Your impact exceeds the number of the many students who had the opportunity to have you as a teacher.

Your life lessons proved much more valuable than what we thought we were getting when we signed up for your French class in high school. You were much more than a French teacher to me. Thank you for sharing your life with your students and inspiring us. 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, who is greatly missing her French teacher today as she heads to a memorial mass for Linda Warren. 

Photo from the Brick Memorial High School Class of ’94 Yearbook. 

 

 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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Back to School Around the World!

Back to School Around the World!

Although the weather in New Jersey, USA feels like the summer is still going strong, the school buses around my neighborhood are one of the signs of fall. Just last week my 7-year-old son started his adventures in public school by taking the school bus for the first time and starting 1st grade.  My daughter also started Kindergarten, our first year of school in the US at age 5, and I am barely keeping the tears back lately!!

Our family tradition is that we get a Back to School picture of both Hayley and Derek, and both, my husband and I, take the kids to school that day.

2015 WMB Back to School USA NJ Sarah

These huge milestones for my kids and our family had me thinking about other kids and moms around the world.  I wondered what “Back to School” looked like for them. Are their kids in uniform? Or play clothes? When do they start school? I invite you to join me on a World Moms Blog around the world, back to school photo journey!…

First, we’re in Belgium. Say bonjour to our contributor, Tinne’s daughters on their first day of school!

2015 WMB Belgium Back to School 500

Next, we head over to Kenya, where Tara Wambugu shares this photo of her daughter and her teacher, Miss Eva, on her first day in Nairobi!

2015 WMB Back to School Keny w Teacher 500

Next, meet us over in the USA, where World Mom, Jennifer Prestholdt’s three children, are off to school in Minnesota! Below is her son’s first day of 10th grade at Washburn High School (in red), her son’s first day of 8th grade at Lake Harriet Upper School (in neon green!), and her daughter’s first day of 5th grade at Lake Harriet Upper School!

2015 WMB Back to School Minnesota Collage

Next, we’re in the UK, where World Mom, Michelle ‘s twin girls start their first day of school of year 4 for 8 and 9 year olds in September! Her older son (not pictured) is starting Senior School this year, too. Hello, there, in the UK!

2015 WMB Back to School Michelle UK 500

Big Yellow School bus, anyone?  Here is World Mom, Jennifer Burden’s daughter, walking to the bus on her first day of third grade (8 years old) this year in New Jersey, USA!  She went back to school this September.

2015 WMB Back to School NJ

Let’s fly on over to preschool in Krakow, Poland for our contributor, Loren’s daughter’s first day! Loren just moved here from Washington, DC, and her daughter went without knowing any Polish! The report? Mom says all seemed to go well!

2015 WMB Back to School Poland 500

World Mom, Kirsten Doyle in Toronto Canada, shared this pic of her sons’ first day of school this September! They started grades 5 and 7 this year.

2015 WMB Back to School Canada 500

Susan Koh, a World Mom in Singapore, shared this photo of her daughter’s first day of school in K2! Kids there go back to school in January. Peace!

2015 WMB Back to School Singapore 500

Our contributor, Alison Fraser in Canada, has had a school built in Arusha, Tanzania through her organization, Mom2Mom Africa. The kids there also begin school in January. Here are some of the students in their school uniforms! (We are also proud that another fellow World Mom sponsors the education for one of these awesome girls!)

2015 WMB Back to School Mom2Mom Africa

Speaking of going back to school in January, World Mom, Karyn Wills, wanted to make sure we mentioned that school children in New Zealand and Australia are three quarters through their school year already, too!

Now, some more fantastic pics from a few friends of the blog in the UK!

2015 WMB Back to School UK Edie and Ruby

Edie and Ruby’s first day of school at St. Walburgas Catholic Primary School, Shipley, West Yorkshire, England.

And, another from the UK…

2015 WMB Back to School UK Reggie Matilda

Matilda and Reggie’s first day of school at The Downs School in Bristol, England.

Oh, those hats! We love them!

And, we leave you with an additional photo of Tara Wambugu’s little girl in Nairobi, Kenya. She’s all business with her lunch box!

2015 WMB Back to School Kenya 500

When is back to school in your country?  Wish to share a back to school photo with us? Head on over to our Facebook Page and leave it as a comment on this post over there! 

*P.S.  Did you catch our contributor in Jordan’s back to school advice for kids yesterday? It’s a MUST read!

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our Social Media Manager, Sarah Hughes of the USA. You can also find her on her personal blog, Finnegan and the Hughes

Photo credits to the World Moms and friends! 

Sarah Hughes

Sarah grew up in New York and now calls New Jersey home. A mother of two, Derek (5) and Hayley (2), Sarah spends her days working at a University and nights playing with her children. In her “free” time Sarah is a Shot@Life Champion and a volunteer walk coordinator for the Preeclampsia Foundation. Sarah enjoys reading, knitting, sewing, shopping and coffee. Visit Sarah at her own blog Finnegan and The Hughes, where she writes about parenting, kid friendly adventures and Social Good issues. Sarah is also an editor, here, at World Moms Blog!

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SPECIAL REPORT: @WhiteHouse and #StudyAbroadBecause #WHTravelBloggers

SPECIAL REPORT: @WhiteHouse and #StudyAbroadBecause #WHTravelBloggers

White House Travel Blogger Summit

What I learned at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week…!

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, the White House invited over 100 social media influencers in travel and global citizenship to Washington, D.C. to discuss study abroad programs for students. Puzzled about the high level concern? Statistics show that our country is lacking in global ambassadors abroad, and this effects our global economic competitiveness and matters of global security.

Did you know that from 2012-2013 just under 300,000 U.S. students studied abroad for university credit?

It sounds like a big number, right? Well, according to Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, that number accounts for just 1.5% of the population of 20 million students enrolled during that same time period. Just 1.5%. Shocking, right? Yet, nearly 50% of students indicate that they are interested in studying abroad when they first enter university. So, why is traveling abroad as a student actually a rarity?

Some barriers to taking the international leap can be finances (that was my case!), no flexibility to take courses outside the university in your major, parental concerns, roommate concerns, intimidation of living in a foreign country and lack of information about programs and scholarships.

These were the type of issues that we discussed with top U.S. government officials at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week. In fact, the White House has announced the launch of a U.S. study abroad office within the next 6 months, as well as, the first-ever Virtual Study Abroad Fair, to be held on February 25, 2015. The new office will help make it easier for more students, regardless of sex, race or socioeconomic status to make studying abroad a reality. And perhaps, we, at World Moms Blog can help with the parental concern part. 😉 (Stay tuned to the blog for advice for parents!)

Why is the U.S. State Department pushing the value of an international component of education?

Our next generation of leaders must have experience as global citizens to be able to “operate within the global political and economic landscape of the 21st century”, according to Evans. An increase of Americans traveling, studying, working and volunteering abroad also helps to break false American stereotypes.

Making Study Abroad Affordable…

Affording to study abroad is not a reality for many American students, which limits the pool of our student ambassadors, limiting the world’s picture of who the American student is. The diversity of American students has not been properly represented to the world with 76% of study abroad students in the 2012-2013 academic year being white, 5% African American, 8% Hispanic, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American, as per Ryan.

In my own student experience, I spent a summer abroad in Japan in high school thanks to a local scholarship, when I got to college the door to study abroad was closed to me. I was receiving need-based financial aid at a private university consisting of both, Federal aid and aid from my university’s scholarship fund.  However the private funds only applied to my education at the university, not abroad. So, I was disappointingly priced out.

This week I had the opportunity to speak with Evan Ryan one-on-one just before she spoke at the White House Travel Bloggers conference, and when I told her my story, she told me about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. This scholarship aims to target the population of U.S. students underrepresented in study abroad programs and sends about 2,000 kids abroad to study annually. To be considered for the scholarship, a U.S. student must be receiving need-based financial aid, such as an US Pell Grant or US Stafford Loan (two types of government subsidized need-based university financial aid).

The challenge? Over 9,000 students apply for the Gilman scholarship each year, but only 2,000 can go. It would be great for more students on need-based financial aid to have a global education experience, and the launch of the new U.S. office of study abroad plans to work toward just that goal — that study abroad is for everyone.

The Economic and Political Landscape is Changing and Friendship Aids Navigation

With greater access to transportation and technology in this day and age, the economic and political landscape is changing. There will continue to be more business and government roles that will require candidates who have foreign language skills and global experience. And, perhaps, the most important and overlooked landscape? Friendship.

Having friends around the world is interesting, fun and mind opening, as we have been learning for the past 4 years, here, at World Moms Blog. Being able to put ourselves in our foreign neighbors’ shoes to better understand what their lives are like makes us more understanding global citizens, and vice versa.

One of my most interesting moments in blog friendship was when one of our international contributors that I’ve been working with here over the years once said to me, “I had no idea Americans could be as understanding as you.” It took me by surprise! But then I realized where her statement was coming from — she was getting to know my country in a more personal way through our friendship, just as I was getting to know hers. Social interaction is key to global citizenship and breaking stereotypes.

Just by increasing the human interaction between people of different countries and cultures, I really believe that her sentence can be replaced with any nationality. The key is getting to know each other and realizing that what it is to be a good human prevails behind borders, burkas, playing helmets, Mardi Gras masks, kilts, saris, newspaper headlines and beyond. We just have to get to know one another, human to human, and then we can better navigate the changing global landscapes…together.

Want to know more about the White House Travel Blogger Summit?  Watch the video here:

“When we study together and we learn together; we work together and we prosper together.” — President Barack Obama May 3, 2013 **Stay tuned for more about the White House Travel Bloggers Summit on World Moms Blog — we have even more to say about our tour of the White House, experience at the National Press Corp., Newseum tour and dinner sponsored by Turkish Airlines and additional speakers on global citizenship and travel abroad!

Patent
pending, Hyperactivate

This is an original post by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, to World Moms Blog. 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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SOCIAL GOOD: Helping Kids Choose2Matter

SOCIAL GOOD: Helping Kids Choose2Matter

manifesto2 copy

“You Matter”. The revelation that those two words can change the world seems so simple, so intuitive, yet those are not words that young people are used to hearing. Angela Maiers a long time educator, and founder of Choose2Matter decided that those two little words could be revolutionary.  With her passion and enthusiasm behind the idea that we each have a unique genius to contribute, it is no wonder that her 2007 TEDx talk went viral. Thus the Choose2Matter movement was born.

“We were created for significance and one of the most dangerous things that can happen to us is the feeling that we don’t matter.”- Angela Maiers

Angela points out that she is not talking about an ego thing, studies show that feeling like you matter is a basic human need. The genius she sees in all of us is each individuals’ ability to problem solve from their own unique personal perspective.  What started out as a digital community has now evolved into Choose2Matter Live events at schools across the U.S.A. In my mind perhaps no one needs to hear this more than high school kids who are in the process of self-discovery, so I was thrilled when the two-day Choose2Matter Live workshop came to my daughter’s public high school in Rhode Island.

The first thing the kids learned was the Choose2Matter Manifesto: You are enough, you have influence, you are a genius, you have a contribution to make, you have a gift that others need, your actions define our impact, you are the change, you matter.  If they did not believe it before, they were now introduced to the idea that their voices and their actions can help others. The examples shown to this new group of kids of ways in which students have already made an impact through Choose2Matter are remarkable.

Honestly though, who doesn’t need to hear this manifesto? Even as adults the feeling that we matter is essential.  This is an ideology that we frequently see first hand here at World Moms Blog, the power of one person, one idea brought to fruition, and how it can positively impact entire communities. Kristyn Zalota launched CleanBirth.org  to provide safe birth for mothers in Laos, Alison Fraser started  www.mom2momafrica to support the education of women and girls in Tanzania, and the founder of World Moms Blog Jennifer Burden created this global community of mothers from around the world when she couldn’t find what she was searching for online. These are just three examples of the many ways World moms Blog Contributors and Editors are using their passions and voices to make the world a better place. Their accomplishments inspire me to strive to do more in my own life, through their achievements I can see the possibilities when one puts their mind to solving a problem.

IMG_1247

A Heart-Break Map

After the introduction, when the kids broke out into groups of “heart-break mapping” to narrow down what breaks their hearts about the world, and then come up with solutions of what they can do about it, my heart burst open. Kids narrowed down their heart breaks into solvable problems, some chose to be brave about sensitive issues they knew first hand to use their experience to try to help others. Due to a snow-day a room full of high school kids chose to voluntarily return to school on the saturday before vacation week to follow through on their ideas.  It was truly amazing to watch these kids come together and talk through some of the major issues impacting society. I witnessed at least three new websites being born to begin to address some of their heart breaks , self-harm, depression, and body image issues for girls. These kids got it. As Angela and her colleague Mark told the kids, these ideas may not be the ones to solve a problem, but you are just building your muscles here, you are just getting started.

The lessons the kids at my daughter’s high school learned in those two days are sure to stay with them. The empowerment of knowing that they do matter, that they are capable of making a difference is huge. The students were left with the message that they are the ones who will need to come up with the answers to the world’s most pressing problems, because us adults just may not have all the answers. (But that is one thing I think all teenagers already seem know.)

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay of Documama.

Do you have any great examples of the power of one person who made an impact to share?

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

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