Four Woodlands students join in a global dialogue forum

The high school students from 13 countries participating in an international dialogue on “Youth Action for Global Causes” included four from Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart. Alex Arreci, a sophomore from Berwyn; Kayla Imanzi, a senior from Rwanda; Maddie Moravek, a senior from Libertyville; and Isabelle Ryan, a senior from Chicago, represented Woodlands, the only Illinois school involved. They joined nearly 250 students from other schools in the U.S. and Belarus, Canada, Chile, England, France, Ghana, India, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain and Turkey who came together Dec. 9 to offer their perspectives.

Their virtual dialogue gave them an opportunity to learn how to engage in respectful dialogue, communicate across differences and understand multiple perspectives around a complex global issue. The program was organized by the Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG), a non-profit association of schools with global education programs, of which Woodlands Academy is a member.

Global education is an integral part of Woodlands Academy’s curriculum. The all-girls college-prep high school in Lake Forest is part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans the United States and 40 other countries on six continents. Its students can participate in an exchange program allowing them to spend some time abroad at one of the other Sacred Heart schools in addition to Global Odyssey and Global Scholar programs. Its boarding school is home to students from several countries each academic year.

“I think that our four international dialogue participants, in particular, have a thirst for global issues and have expressed considerable enthusiasm towards global studies throughout their time at Woodlands,” said Jessica Campbell, director of the Woodlands Academy Center for Global Studies. “The skills they have acquired through Woodlands’ exchange program and Global Odyssey likely gave them the confidence to engage in this global program.”

Isabelle and Kayla’s demonstrated interest in global issues and affairs has led them to apply for the Global Scholar program this year. Upon successfully completing it, their high school diplomas and transcripts will include the designation of “Global Scholar.” Woodlands Academy’s program exposes participants to different cultures, languages and perspectives through challenging coursework, project-based learning, internships, cultural exchanges and service. It equips them with the necessary skills and experience to be leaders in the competitive and challenging 21st century by giving them a deeper understanding of the complex web of cultural, religious, social, economic and scientific issues that are the trademarks of our global world.

GEBG is a leading organization of K-12 schools that researches and establishes best practices in global education and prepares students to thrive in increasingly interconnected world systems. It supports member schools through a myriad of benefits including in-depth professional development, collaborative student and faculty travel, curricular development, conferences, and a supportive network of member schools. These initiatives help schools establish structures and programs that enable students to develop the knowledge, skills, and empathic orientation required of global citizens.