I must admit that the aspect of the AYLP in Bangladesh that originally piqued my interest was the lens of climate change that it employed. Being an environmental science teacher, I am very interested in climate change and enthusiastic about teaching others how to explore this topic in greater depth and connect it to their own lives. I was prepared to bring my own knowledge about the environment to share with participants and to learn from the case studies of climate changes in Bangladesh. However, I hadn’t realized how much I would take away about how to infuse global cultural competency into my curriculum. Using the exploration of culture to form questions about what influence people’s environmental values and decisions has implications that touch many corners of my high school AP Environmental Science course. I have already asked my students to examine our own “universe of obligation”, which shapes who we decide to support (monetarily, temporally, morally, etc.), and I have plans to incorporate more cultural examinations into our units on population growth and climate change in the future.
I’ve also come away with more personal learnings about how to become a more authentic traveler who embraces another culture more completely, what it means to move towards solidarity when engaging in service projects, and what aspects of US culture I am proud of and want to embrace and share. None of these learnings happen passively, and instead involve conscious decisions and efforts to step outside of one’s comfort zone. Moving forward, I also hope to bring these new learnings to the Global Service Learning programs at Kent Place School, and help our scholar leaders uncover more about culture, service, and the environment as they travel, learn, and interact with people from different backgrounds. The relevance of these understandings is universal, so I hope to carry them with me for the rest of my life, sharing them with others all along the way.