When Anna Cohen ’19 was hired for an internship through Harvard University’s community service organization to teach a summer enrichment program for local low-income fifth-graders, she wanted to create a curriculum that focused on learning about the world.
Finding good online resources proved difficult.
So, Anna turned to her United World College-USA schoolmates for help. Things went so well that she is now creating an online resource to make learning about different countries and cultures more accessible for students in the United States. She is making videos with UWC students as her subjects.
“It’s fundamentally important to understand and have compassion for people from different places,” said Anna, who is taking a gap year after completing her freshman year at Wellesley College. “It’s something essential for a peaceful future. I noticed huge changes in myself since going to UWC. I’m much more compassionate and empathetic.”
For her virtual summer classroom, Anna asked UWC-USA graduates from Timor-Leste, Nicaragua, Sweden, Nigeria, and India to hold live question-and-answer sessions with her students.
“It was amazing,” said Anna, who in the fall plans to study political science and psychology at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. “It was funny the questions 9- and 10-year-olds ask, like ‘do you wear uniforms to school’ and ‘what are your favorite foods.’”
“The kids became so much more curious and aware in those five weeks,” she continued. “Those were just first- and co-years (who made the presentations). There are so many people in the (UWC) network.”
The success prompted the 19-year-old from Tucson, Ariz., to go a step further. She reached out for help from UWC alumni on Facebook and within a few hours about 50 responded.
“It was incredible,” she said. “I even found a co-year from a different UWC to help develop curriculum packets.”
Anna did a couple Zoom interviews, but ran into Wifi and camera quality issues. To get higher quality videos, she purchased a camera and got permission to visit UWC-USA for 10 days. Anna interviewed 11 students from all regions of the world.
“This was really wonderful,” she said. “I got footage, some of which is targeting younger audiences. I used questions my students asked this summer.”
“I will also have a video from each interview geared toward an older audience where the interviewee talks about more adult topics like social justice, sustainability, government, and perceptions of gender in addition to daily life and culture,” Anna continued. “This is really aimed towards everyone who wants to learn more about the world be it for school or pleasure.”
She plans to continue collecting interviews with other UWC students.
These videos will be available online, and Anna is planning on partnering with classrooms to use these videos in their “global learning” curriculum.