Friday, March 28, 2014

Get Moving and Get Global

So grateful to our First Lady Michelle Obama for the strong support of global education during her visit to China. Here's what she said at Peking University:  

"Studying abroad isn’t just a fun way to spend a semester; it is quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy. Because getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about getting good grades or test scores in school, which are important. It’s also about having real experience with the world beyond your borders -- experience with languages, cultures and societies very different from your own." 
You can watch the video of the First Lady's talk here. And let me ask you--when will "global education" finally be just "education"?

Linked to the My Global Life Link Up at

Friday, February 28, 2014

Multilingual "Let It Go" Says "Bring It On" to World Language Learning

Alright, I'll admit it. I've had a hankering to be one of those Disney Princesses since I was three years old. (This despite the face that I nearly fell down the stairs in the clear plastic Cinderella shoes I'd pleaded for.)

Of course, I had my reservations. Don't we all?  But here's a video that may bring even the most reluctant Disney-disapprover into the fold.

Yes, that's Elsa from Frozen, singing her "I'm-going-my-own-way" song in twenty-five different languages. Play this one at home or in your class for young girls and then casually mention taking a closer look and listen to one of the languages Elsa is singing. I'll bet you get some interest.

If you're a teacher or a parent (or an aunt!) wanting to use this fun for global learning, you'll find some great ideas for research and discussion at Nat Geo's Blog

And ten years from now, watch out for the Daughters of Elsa world language students and speakers.

Linked to the My Global Life Link-up at 

My Global Life Link-Up

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Come, come, whoever you are . . .

If you'll be in or around Chapel Hill on Wednesday, February 26, come and join us!

Free and open to the public.  Just as Rumi would like it.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Really Global View

A brief message from your planet.

Hi. Good to be in touch. Listen, I'm not going into all the global warming business right now (although I do wish you'd pay a little more attention to it).  Today I have one very simple but very vital reminder for you.

There is no up and down in space.

Okay, so what does that mean?  Lots of things, but most important to what I'd like to think about today is that you're thinking of the way I look in only one way instead of many ways.

Don't get me wrong--I'm really flattered that you think of me so often, and create such beautiful images of me.  That Universal Studios logo at the beginning of their movies?

Fantastic. Love it. But you know it's kind of Western-hemisphere centric, right?  Yeah, we covered that a while back. But also--well, something you may not have thought of.

How shall I put this, because it may be pretty strange to hear.  Ummm.  There is no up and down in space.

So . . .   Well, that North Pole is at the top stuff?  Not really.  I mean not all the time.  And don't get me wrong, I love the NASA photo of Earth from space.

But.  It could have been the other way (I mean "upside down") and been just as accurate. 

Yeah, freaky.

Take a look at this beautiful map of a region I know you're very familiar with.  Muhammad Al-Idrisi created it in the 12th century.


Can't place it?  How about if we turn it "upside down."

Now you see it.  Well, both are equally accurate.  You see? 

Just promise to think about it.  And happy new year!

Linked to the "My Global Life" Link Up at

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NC Social Studies Conference

Don't forget that the NC Social Studies Conference is coming up fast. Make your plans now and we'll see you in Greensboro, February 20-21.

Lots of great sessions, and a wonderful way to network with some of the best teachers in the state.  I've been known to call it Vegas for social studies nerds. And I can't wait to get there!

I'll be offering this session:

The Middle East and the Common Core
Come learn how to find and use primary and secondary sources, including text, video, and maps, to deepen students’ understanding of the Middle East. Free resources and information about workshops, online teaching materials, and curriculum support.

Register here. And I'll see you there!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Where is the Middle East?

What's your geographical definition of the Middle East?  It's not as simple as it sounds . . . . 

To learn more about definitions of the Middle East as a region and find more 20th century maps of the Middle East and the reasons for their borders,click here.  

Thanks to T.J. Wolfe and Phil Daquila for their assistance!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Middle Eastern Cultures--Plural

I've been Outreach Director for the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies for some years now.  But I've never met a Middle Easterner.


You heard me.

Oh, I've met and worked with Egyptians and Israelis and Jordanians and Palestinians and Persians and Turks, alright. But never a Middle Easterner.

You see what I mean?

It sounds academic to state that the term "Middle East" is largely a geopolitical construct. But it is. And when we fall into the habit of thinking that "Middle East" refers to one homogenous group of people (or even two groups of people), we miss the very reality--realities--we're looking to explore.

It may seem like a small thing to stop and insist upon adding an "s" to terms like Middle Eastern Culture, or Arabic Culture, or Islamic Culture.  But it's important to acknowledge that there is more than one of each.  If you've traveled to any two places in the Middle East, or met any two people from different parts of the Middle East, you know what I mean.  You know that understanding the complexities of a single region or country is essential to developing cultural competency.

So here's a resolution for next year. Whenever someone uses the term "Middle East," ask them to specify. Where in the Middle East? In what language? In what culture?

Language, dress, social customs, perspectives on history, food--it's all complicated, even in the Middle East. So let's get complicated, shall we?

Linked to the "My Global Life" Link Up at