Higher Education Institutions Can Help Program Afterschool and Summer Programs

A Fulbright graduate student teaches about Southeast Asia. Image: One To World's Global Classroom
Universities and colleges have significant international expertise across many departments, and can offer a range of global materials and resources. In addition to international faculty, these institutions host diverse international student populations who are often looking for authentic ways to participate in American communities. Over a half-million students from other countries are enrolled in higher education institutions in the United States, and another 250,000 American college students return from study abroad each year. Yet these groups are often untapped as guest speakers, project leaders, volunteers, and support staff who can help enhance global learning.

Campus groups devoted to the cultures of international students and their home countries are common across the country. These groups can provide speakers, artistic productions, and other events. For example, One To World’s Global Classroom program trains Fulbright grantees and other international students to design and lead interactive curriculum-based workshops on their home countries and cultures for young people in schools and afterschool programs. In one workshop, a Ghanaian student helped participants try on kente cloth, and explained how the patterns, or adinkras, imprinted on the cloth contain important symbols. Each student then designed their own adinkra and created a stamp of it. Using paint and a large piece of paper, the class created their own kente cloth.

American college students who are studying or researching abroad can also send reflections from their target country to afterschool and summer programs—benefiting not only the program participants, but also the students abroad who may not otherwise consistently reflect on their new experiences. In partnership with the NC State University Study Abroad Office, The Center for International Understanding's Afterschool Cultural Correspondents program connects K-8 classrooms and afterschool programs with university study abroad students to expose youngsters to what it may be like to live in another country. Students across the state are learning alongside college students studying in Australia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Japan, Morocco, Spain and New Zealand. The curriculum is linked to the Standard Course of Study and supports global competencies for future-ready students.

With their strong connections to communities, afterschool programs often provide a bridge to help youth explore opportunities to develop their college and career paths. In addition to helping youth consider globally relevant courses of study in higher education – such as cultural anthropology, international finance, or world languages – many colleges sponsor career days that may include business leaders and employees who have worked overseas. Often they are happy to include high school student groups.

Even if you are not near a college or university, educational materials appropriate for K-12 settings are increasingly available online. Universities with centers focused on regions of the world and/or world languages funded by Title VI of the Higher Education Act are required to provide professional development and curricula resources to K-12 audiences. To learn more, read our article on how to work with Title VI centers and access a directory of national programs.