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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Educators on Global Learning: Lucia Rodriguez

  1. Tell us about the United Nations Association.
  2. Tell us about the Global Classrooms program in the Model United Nations.
  3. What is the UNA Student Alliance?
  4. Tell us about how your organization collaborates with the International Education and Resource Network.

Tell us about the United Nations Association.

The United Nations Association was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, actually before the founding of the United Nations. She wanted to make sure that the United Nations did not go the way of the League of Nations, and our role is to raise awareness of the United Nations among the American public.

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Tell us about the Global Classrooms program in the Model United Nations.

This program is for teachers who don't know how to implement the Model United Nations in their classroom. Traditionally, the Model United Nations has been an activity implemented in the private schools, in elite schools, or in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs.

Not any normal or regular teacher could say, "I want to do this," because usually they didn't have the background or knowledge to do it. So we created curriculum materials aligned with national standards, as well as state standards, that demystify the Model United Nations. We've implemented the specific program called Global Classrooms in Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City, and Tampa, we're also in Los Angeles, and this year we're going to expand it to Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

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What is the UNA Student Alliance?

Global Classrooms has been around for at least four years. We have students in the second or third year of participating in this program, and they have come back to us and asked, "What else can we do? We've learned about global warming in Brazil. We've learned about child trafficking. We've learned about women and the abuses and the issues and challenges they're going through all over the world. What can we do here at home?"

So, we've developed the UNA Student Alliance -- a group of students throughout the country involved and interested in connecting with their peers across the oceans and borders, and working on similar issues and sharing best practices: "What are you doing in Ghana? What am I doing in New York? And how can we come together to even be more successful at what we're doing?"

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Tell us about how your organization collaborates with the International Education and Resource Network.

We do work with the United Nations Center School Bus. We also work with iEARN. Its executive editor, Ed Gragert, has been helpful in terms of helping us make sure that our kids have the technology resources they need to hold for our chats.

For example, if I had a kid in Chicago who's studying Zimbabwe, and they want to connect with a child in Zimbabwe right now, we as an organization can't do it. But we work with iEARN, which has these chat forums with these kids from all over the world, and we connect our kid in Chicago who can ask the peer in Zimbabwe questions about the culture, the language, and the geography, and that is helping.

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