Students on the Northwest Community College Initiative program (NWCCI) have many opportunities to share their cultures with the US communities where they are living and studying. These interactions teach our communities about the countries the students come from, provide firsthand accounts of life in other places, and allow high school students to begin developing global perspectives. Below high school teacher Mark Wright describes how American students benefit from having NWCCI students present to his classes at Bellingham High School.
My name is Mark Wright and I teach at Bellingham High School. Several of my classes have benefited greatly from interacting with NWCCI students from a variety of different countries attending Whatcom Community College. It has been among the most meaningful moments that my students reflect on at the end of their time with me. I teach several classes: Comparative Religion, Civics, and AP Human Geography.
Each of those classes is directly impacted by the ever-changing world. We discuss a lot of what things are like in other countries, but having these students in to give firsthand accounts of their lives as citizens is truly meaningful.
For my Civics classes we discuss human rights, globalization and the environment. My students were given the opportunity to ask probing questions about these issues outside of our country. It was amazing for my kids to hear how things really are as opposed to how they are portrayed. “It was really interesting to learn what was true about their countries and what was just stereotypes that we heard from other people”, one senior stated.
My Comparative Religion class gets the chance to see what role religion plays in the lives of these students. It is so important for my kids to gain perspective on the truth about how one follows their faith, to compliment what is stated in a text.
In AP Human Geography the essence of the class is to know the world, and my students cannot know the world without interaction from those living in it! The NWCCI students were so willing to open their lives to my kids—it was truly amazing to hear the stories of their lives!
One student expressed their gratitude for the visit, “It was really great to meet all of those people from around the world and be able to ask them questions and talk to them about their countries. It was cool to hear their personal views of their country and the US. I thought that it was a great experience and would love to have the opportunity to meet and talk with them again.”
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.