Inspiration from Near and Far.
Travel has always been a passion for me. Unfortunately, it hasn't always been a reality. Whether due to the cost, responsibilities at home, or a global pandemic, my travel lust hasn't quite been as requited as I would like. One of the primary reasons is my undying interest in how other people live. And, as a result, my love of learning over and over again that despite huge differences in cultures and lived experiences, there's always more that connects us than separates us. As long as we're willing to do the work to uncover it, of course.
This belief has led to frustration over recent years as we've watched deeper divisions grow in our world. From increasing segregation in our schools and communities to the distancing and isolation experienced in the COVID-19 pandemic, our connections to others have been strained.
The Civil Rights Project at UCLA revealed that, in 1988, after various desegregation efforts, 37% of black students attended majority-white schools nationally (Orfield & Jarvie, 2021). By 2018, that number had decreased to 19 percent.
My fear is that these divisions are being passed down to our children and are making it harder for them to find the authentic experiences with people different from themselves that nurtures the empathy and cultural competence that will be vital to success in our increasingly globalized marketplace. But, there's also good news.
In a world where the skills needed to succeed in the future marketplace are becoming more and more difficult to come by organically via authentic day-to-day experiences in our schools and communities, online collaborative tools present unique and previously unavailable opportunities.
Between the rapid growth in the galaxy of online communication and collaboration tools, continually expanding internet access throughout the world, and newly honed skills for both students and teachers due to distance learning, potential to bridge these divisions is literally at our fingertips.