In Depth

PA Still Examining Global Citizenship, Maintaining Contacts Across the World

Phillips Academy’s partnership with Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of a small Shi’a Muslim sect, is part of an effort to reach out to the global community. The Academy is still in the process of determining how best to take advantage of its connections acrosss the globe. The contact with Aga Khan began when his son graduated from Andover in 1989. The Aga Khan Educational Network funds the International Academic Partnership, which provides participating schools with information, such as how to use calculators to teach math. Andover’s part in this chain is to contribute knowledge to these schools. In return, Phillips Academy has the opportunity to exchange teachers with the other schools. Andover has been partnered with high schools Da Tong in Shanghai and Ren Min in Beijing for eight years, before setting the 2004 Strategic Goal to “engage the question of global citizenship and its implication for our educational program.” Head of School Barbara Chase hopes Phillips Academy will develop its relationships with other schools and make new parterships in other contries. John Rogers, Dean of Studies, believes Andover’s relationships with Da Tong and Ren Min must mature before the schools can start to truly reap the benefits of having sister schools. This could be achieved through more communication and ambassadors between schools. He said, “[The visits] really need to be focused on learning…as much as one can about the other system and what that has to teach us.” As of now, Chase, Dean of Faculty Temba Maqubela and other faculty members have made what Merrill calls “intense” visits. So far these efforts have been mostly to Dat Tong in Shanghai, but similar visits to Ren Min are planned for later this year. Peter Merrill, Head of the Division of World Languages, will go this December and March, along with other faculty members. Chase visited Ren Min last November. Ren Min’s Head of School invited Chase to be the keynote speaker at an educational conference in the Chinese Congress, but instead Chinese televsion crews filmed Chase this past week. During visits to sister schools, faculty members have met with their Chinese counterparts and the school’s administration to discuss where the relationships between schools are and where both parties want them to go. Chase said, “China is an incredibly important world presence and power…so it’s just important as an educated person to know about China. We also believe, though, that our system of education can learn something from the way the Chinese system does things and vice versa and that that’s one of the real values of exchanges.” “We’re just beginning to really, I think, see the benefits of that,” she added. Five faculty members came from one of the Chinese schools last year. They attended classes, met with faculty members to discuss curriculum, and ate in the dining halls. The institution was on the brink of becoming a boarding school, so the visiting faculty took speical note of PA’s residential life program. Merrill sees a brighter and more involved future in store. He hopes that the schools can form a working relationship that benefits both parties by educating two very different cultures about one another. Merrill also said he hopes that they do not become formal, for-show relationships. These partnerships, along with various contacts in South America, South Asia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Mumbai, connect Phillips Academy with different cultures, enhancing its “global citizenship.” Teachers are able to visit schools within the Aga Khan Educational Network to teach or observe classes. Many teachers have taken advanage of this opportunity. Seth Bardo, Instructor in English, met new English teacher Elly Nyamwaya while in Tanzania. But the administration is also still determining how best to implement this part of the strategic plan. The Global Perspective Group, headed by Merrill, has been discussing the idea of global citizenship and what it may mean for Phillips Academy. Still in the planning stages is an iniative to equip the Unobskey Room with real-time video equipment, which would allow language students to communicate with native speakers from around the world. One morning of the Trustees Weekend this month will focus on the idea of global citizenship. Faculty membesr will be invited to voice opinions on how to prepare students to become global citizens, and what exactly that means for a Phillips Academy student.