Bringing the World Home
Bringing the World Home
Posted on 08/22/2016

Bringing the World Home

By, Stacia Harris, Assistant Director of Communications and
Laura Mitchell, Art Teacher and 2015 North Buncombe District Teacher of the Year

Laura Mitchell, North Buncombe Middle School Art Teacher, joined 25 other North Carolina educators on a study tour to South Africa in June. Mitchell visited schools in Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg as well as exploring historic sites and national parks. The goal is to not just bring back more of a global understanding for students, but to create global partnerships with the schools in South Africa.

The BCS Advantage Magazine spoke with Ms. Mitchell about what this trip means for her and her students.

Why did you want to be a part of this South Africa trip?

“Every time I travel to a new country I gain more knowledge about the world, and I’m changed in some way.  When I heard about the opportunity to travel to South Africa, I knew it would be a good contrast to my trip to Kenya in 2014.  Before that, in 2000, I was able to be a part of a similar trip with North Carolina educators and traveled to Japan.  I have stayed in touch with some of the teachers I traveled with as well as the Japanese teachers I visited.

What does Global Education mean to you?

“Global Education is more than just creating intercultural understanding. It is creating unity.  By opening my students to the wider world and helping them to see that our fellow humans around the globe are a part of our community, I am giving them the tools to see themselves as global citizens. By having more understanding and then coupling that understanding with authentic experiences of interacting with students from other countries, our students in Buncombe County will be better equipped to get along with others and to become global leaders within our own community and throughout the world.”

How do you turn these global experiences into lessons for your students?

“As an art educator I tell my students that art is a universal language and that through learning visual literacy they will be better at anything they go forth into when they graduate.  Everything the students learn in each subject links to another.  I can’t teach art without math, literacy, science, and social studies.  It is all of this.  Global education is all of this, too. Through blogging, snail mail, and email my students will exchange ideas, artwork, and writing. They will have a better idea of what is might be to walk around Cape Town as a 13-year-old South African and the students in South Africa will have a better idea of what it is really like to be a 13 year old student from Weaverville, NC.  It is the everyday things that help us connect so the students can work together with students around the world to connect and discuss bigger issues like world peace, water quality, education equity, fair trade, and the environment.”

How have you seen your students transformed by learning about the world?

“I have seen my students make connections between subjects and come into my room and tell me how it relates to what they are learning in English Language Arts or something they discussed in science or social studies.  I also have seen their eyes light up and walls come down.  We recently got a new student from the Dominican Republic.  My students have embraced him and are curious to know about where he came from.  I truly believe the more the students are exposed to the greater world the greater their heart grows.”

Why is a global education so important for students?

“We live in a global world where we can text, chat, call, email, video chat, etc. with people in other countries at the click of a button.  Global education gives students, teachers, and administrators a more open mind and a greater understanding of people.  These skills enable people to grow and expand.  It gives them wings to see the bigger picture with a wider perspective while also appreciating where they come from having a truer sense of identity. By traveling to other countries and bringing the first-hand knowledge and opportunity for my students to have meaningful communication with students on the other side of the world I am helping to create global citizens who are more understanding, more aware, and more knowledgeable.”  

Ms. Mitchell's trip to South Africa is arranged through Go Global NC  (formerly the Center for International Understanding), and The Beattie Foundation is funding her trip. Ms. Mitchell is also pursuing her Global Educator Digital Badge. She is an active blogger who chronicles all of her global activities!


Go to to read more about her trip.

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