When a group of College students were offered the chance to learn about being global citizens and gain a Global Competence Certificate for their efforts, they grabbed it.

Head Boy Jack Belcher, Deputy Head Boy Jamie Barr, Oliver Hlavac, Bradley Shearer, Henry Briscoe and Claude Tellick snapped up the spots available through the AFS Intercultural Programme and managed to complete the Global Competence Certificate during Term 4 and through their study leave for exams, before school finished in 2020.

“I decided to do it as it was a perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge on cultural acceptance and differences,” says Jamie Barr.

Delivered through a series of online modules and facilitated discussion sessions, the group of six learnt what it takes to be a global citizen. Four areas were covered – how to become more self-aware, increase awareness of others, manage emotional responses, and to bridge differences.

Jack Belcher says he grabbed the chance because, “While the stereotype may suggest otherwise, College is a very multicultural school with students from all over the world, each with their own beliefs, practices and behaviours.

“With this in mind I wanted to ensure I had the skills necessary to interact with everyone in the school respectfully and fairly, which is why this was such a great opportunity.”

Jack says the online modules consisted of short videos followed by questions “and a chance to share our own perspective of the content on a blog, and read other responses from all over the world.

“Approximately every one or two weeks we would come together as a group in the facilitated sessions to further discuss what we had learnt.”

He says while the work involved was not difficult, it focused predominantly on new information “which took a while to take in.”

“Having lived in New Zealand all of my life, it is easy to forget how much diversity there is in the rest of the world. This course served as a strong reminder that some of the behaviours we find rude in New Zealand are commonplace in other cultures, or vice versa. I would thoroughly recommend this programme for anyone able to take it.”

Jamie agrees.

“The work was fascinating as the majority of it was concepts I had not been exposed to before. Therefore it was easy to be motivated to do it, as it was new learning. Some of it was challenging to understand, but that’s why the facilitated discussions were so helpful as we were able to talk about difficult points,” he says.

“It changed my outlook on the whole of cultural settings. I learnt methods to communicate and learnt to accept other cultures for their differences.”