I was lucky enough to study abroad during my junior year at Trinity College. Based in Florence, I traveled all around Europe, experiencing weekends in London, Paris and Amsterdam. Honestly, I think about those excursions all the time. The sights, the cultures, the people made such an impression on me. Those three months made a huge impact on my life. Now, I show my beloved photo album to my boys, ages 10 and 8, who love to ask questions about the Eiffel Tower, Pompeii and the island of Elba, where Napoleon lived during exile. We have great conversations which often result in a group study of the world map that fills up an entire wall in Sam’s room. While they have not been out of the country, we are trying to raise “worldly wise” children…and a local author believes this is a necessary practice in today’s ever-changing world.
Stacie Nevadomski Berdan of Glastonbury wrote Raising Global Children with her husband, Marshall S. Berdan, a book that highlights the need for children to become globally competent adults. “It means having a global approach, a global outlook and being aware of the world around us,” says this mother of teenage twins., who thinks “global kids” will do better in the work force and grow into adults who feel at-home in the world. “One of the greatest gifts you can give children today is to prepare them to thrive in this globally connected world and it’s not that difficult. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money but it does require a shift in thinking.”
1.) Inspire children to be curious about the world
*Look at maps together. If your child asks a question and you don’t know the answer, say: “Let’s investigate.”
*Talk about current events at the dinner table, such as the conflict in the Ukraine.
*Use your local resources. “Libraries are beautiful sources of information, books, music, maps, magazines...and librarians are willing to help,” says Berdan, noting that globally-minded picture books exist for little ones.
*Eat at cultural restaurants. Experiencing different cuisine inspires kids to look at the world in a new way.
2.) Teach kids how to communicate and interact with others
*Make sure they study a second language, even though many schools are cutting back on classes. “The United States doesn’t do this very well, as a nation. We don’t have our priorities straight, in my opinion. Only 16 states require it,” says Berdan.
*We can expose our sons and daughters to other languages by finding unique apps and computer programs. Perhaps they won’t become proficient, but: “At least they’re open and interested and they realize that English isn’t the only language,” says Berdan.
*As youngsters grow older, encourage them to study abroad and utilize exchange programs during high school and college.
3.) Help teens apply these skills as they grow
*Increasingly, companies are looking for employees with global skills.
Also, Berdan believes understanding the world simply enhances our characters. “It expands your person. It actually makes you a broader, more open-minded thinker, able to deal with things that come your way in life,” she says. “There’s so much beauty in the world.”
This author, with a background in business, also thinks being "globally minded" has far-reaching, positive repercussions. “The more our children, as they become adults, actually appreciate, understand and have these interactions with people around the world, the greater chance we have actually for greater peace developing.”
How do you teach kids about life around the world?