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Global citizens

Dorca Kisare-Ressler, director of international student programs and co-chair of the International Education Week committee, reflects on the event as well as the importance of global citizenship.

Mwamba Children's ChoirInternational Education Week at Messiah College was planned with the intention of providing an integrated experience for the college community and surrounding community to enjoy many educational opportunities while also taking a moment to encourage international cultural awareness.

It was the hope of the planning committee that the week would provide opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to come together in celebration as people shared their stories and learned together.

The International Festival took place on November 20 as the finale for International Education Week. The afternoon was a time to experience various cultures, a moment to learn about the world with a range of activities including tasting food from two local ethnic restaurants.

The experience of planning the events for the 2010 International Education Week, besides the regular responsibilities of advising, advocating, and supporting international, missionary kids, and third cultural students, was one of the most exciting and enjoyable projects I have worked on thus far. Meeting with colleague’s throughout the semester and having an opportunity to relate to students who have helped with designing the poster, creating flyers, planning for the drum circle, and assisting in other ways gave me an opportunity to work with great people and provided an opportunity to meet other educators and students whom I might have not interacted with otherwise.

Last year, at the conclusion of the international festival, I questioned the planning committee members and other participants, “What does being a global citizen means to you?” Their responses, and my own personal thoughts, helped shape this year’s program.

My personal response to this question is: Being a global citizen means that as long as I am able, I will do whatever it is within my power to be aware of the imbalance in world political power and the economic imbalance that exists in the world. Being a global citizen means that I will educate myself on the decisions that are made by world leaders and institutions such as the G-20, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, and I will understand the effects of these decisions on those countries with unequal power on the playing field.

I believe that as an educator with a Christian perspective, being a world citizen challenges me to be an advocate and an educator on issues that relate to unjust policies affecting people either in the U.S or around the world.  It means that I will educate myself on issues that—by virtue of their political nature—are meant to divide rather than bring understanding and awareness to the world community. Most important, global citizenship means that as a world citizen I will acknowledge and support people who are working to make a difference in the forgotten and the unseen, committing myself to do work that can make even a small difference in someone else’s life.

I believe that if I do live what I preach, so to speak, the students whom I interact with, and whom I am always reminding of the mission statement of Messiah College, will one day chose to be the reconcilers in the world one. However, they will only succeed on those endeavors if they understand the challenges and other forces that they will encounter. The only way they can be prepared is by having competency in what global education is all about.

*Editor’s Note: On the first day of International Education Week, Messiah College learned that it had placed seventh among bachelors colleges for sending the most students to study abroad! The College is also among an elite few who send more than 70% of their student body studies abroad.

Video by Scott Markley `12. Photography by Addie Zuccarini `14.

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