Promoting Values and Awareness with Generation Global at Tree of Life International School

Raquel Miranda (Social Awareness Consultant) Florencia Morado (Educational Innovation Consultant)

Tree of Life International School is a school in Costa Rica with 180 students from 30 different nations. Our core value is respect for diversity, and we consider solidarity, empathy and multiculturalism to be the pillars of our educational community.

We first encountered Generation Global in late 2022 and were delighted to find that it was the ideal tool to promote the school’s values in our student population. Using Generation Global Video Conferences, we connected our students with peers worldwide on key topics such as Peace and Security, Health and Well-Being, and Identity and Belonging, among others. However, we couldn’t find a suitable time that would allow our students to fully utilise this tool. Since we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to leverage the high-quality resources that Generation Global offers, we have explored new ways to meet our institution’s needs.

Pilot Project: Extra-curricular Generation Global Club

Our pilot programme commenced with an extracurricular club known as Generation Global. The concept for this initiative was born out of the aspiration to explore the themes available on the platform, observe the students’ reactions, and grasp the knowledge, significance, and cultural value of the lessons.

This club was offered as an optional activity, convening once a week for an hour. It engaged six students over the course of three months, with guidance provided by Teacher Raquel, who serves as the liaison for UNESCO’s ASPnet. The topics covered in this programme included “The Rights of Women and Girls,” “Wealth and Poverty,” and “Action Against Hate Speech.” The students exhibited a high degree of engagement and a deep sensitivity toward these subjects. We complemented these topics with social work initiatives, volunteering at a girls’ orphanage and visiting a food bank and community centre in an economically disadvantaged neighbourhood.

Generation Global in Action

We have also used Generation Global’s materials to address challenging situations: a student expressing discriminatory views towards women; two students making racist remarks in a peer chat; and a 10-year-old who violated another student’s privacy by accessing their email account. We chose relevant Generation Global resources such as:

  • The Rights of Women and Girls: We emphasise the significant and arduous struggle for women’s rights. The statistics presented during the True or False activity were quite eye-opening for the students. This was followed by “The Women in my Life” questions, which helped one student realise how his words may have unintentionally hurt a female classmate.
  • Peace and Security: We illustrated global challenges such as gang violence, war, and violent extremism, which enabled the students to gain a deeper appreciation for their own lives. It also prompted discussions about the distressing impact that any form of violence has on children’s lives. By the end of this module, students grasped the importance of being positive agents for peace rather than contributing to a culture of bullying.
  • Digital Wellness: The student learned about the concept of digital wellness and the crucial balance between privacy, safety, and individual rights. This understanding was fostered by examining percentages and real-world examples. It underscored the significance of using available technological resources in a responsible manner.

The discussions and learning processes were guided by a school facilitator.

Generation Global in Assemblies

Finally, we have promoted Generation Global’s values to 30% of the secondary population, incorporating it into the school’s agenda for weekly one-hour assemblies with grades 8 and 9. The topics that emerged thus far are:

  1. Human Trafficking: the screening of the controversial film “Sound of Freedom” in Costa Rica sparked dialogue about the value of human life. During this time, students looked at case studies and reflected on their feelings.
Human Trafficking activity by grade 8 students (age 13)
Figure 1: Human Trafficking activity by grade 8 students (age 13).
Note: On the palm: "Kids trafficking." On the fingers: 1. Being thankful for what you have. 2. There are people who have bigger problems. 3. We can always help someone else. 4. Some people really need our help. 5. Injustice.
  1. Peace Day: Inspired by our school’s rich diversity in nationalities, religions and beliefs, Peace Day offered an opportunity for students of grade 9, ages 14-15, to explore quotes from diverse religions and leaders, concluding that “co-existence is the essence of peace”.
Activity for Peace Day
Figure 2: Activity for Peace Day.
Note: Students wrote "peace," "love" and other words related to peace in different languages in order to represent the longing for peace in all cultures.
  1. Hate Speech: In response to incidents of hate speech in a student chat as well as the recent Middle East conflict, students engaged with Generation Global’s “Hate Speech” materials, diving into a school regulation proposal filled with negative, racist and violent statements. This exercise was designed to help students to think critically about a world governed by such rules.
Hate Speech activity
Figure 3: Hate Speech activity.
Note: Analysis and proposal from a student.

Our approach has allowed us to flexibly integrate topics that align with our school’s specific interests, student experiences and current global events.

Looking back on Generation Global 2023

Our journey, supported by Generation Global resources, has been transformative, leading to more empathetic and sensitive students who are globally aware. The programme has become an integral part of our school’s efforts to build a compassionate and inclusive learning community. It has not only enriched the educational experience at Tree of Life International School, but it has also deeply impacted our students by showing them the power they have, both for good and for bad.

Our experience has demonstrated the flexibility and adaptability of Generation Global’s materials, allowing us to address both specific student needs and global issues as they have affected our school.

These activities have had a profoundly positive impact on our students, fostering increased reflection and sensitivity, and leading to positive behavioural changes in students involved in conflict situations. Through thought-provoking activities on critical topics such as Human Trafficking, Peace, and Hate Speech, our students have gained a deeper understanding of their own values and a broader perspective on the world. They have shown increased empathy, sensitivity, and a willingness to stand against hate and discrimination.

Looking forward to Generation Global at TOLIS in 2024

In 2024, we aim to extend Generation Global to assemblies that will include 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade levels, ages 10 to 13, adapting materials accordingly. As we move forward, we remain committed to our mission of nurturing a diverse, inclusive, and respectful educational community. Our journey with Generation Global has been instrumental in achieving this goal, and we look forward to further expanding and refining our efforts to positively impact the next generation of global citizens.