By Tafadzwa Munyaka
One of the most rewarding experiences in life is the opportunity to inspire young minds and ignite their curiosity about the world. Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in one of One To World’s Global Classroom programs. This particular program was a career fair for middle school students at I.S. 528 in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. As an Atlas Corps international exchange program fellow, I was excited to engage with these young minds who were eager to learn about studying and working abroad. What struck me the most during the event was the exceptional level of organization, the inquisitive nature of the students, and their remarkable foresight in exploring potential career paths. It made me reflect on my own middle school days when my main concerns revolved around playing soccer and satisfying my appetite. It was a truly remarkable occasion that reminded me of the boundless potential of our youth. One To World’s Global Classroom connects New York City youth with trained, international university students through interactive workshops to engage students in learning about world cultures and global issues.
A Journey of Exploration
One To World’s Global Classroom program was invited to this remarkable platform that allowed middle school students to explore various career options and gain insights into different professions including studying and working abroad. The event was meticulously organized, showcasing a wide range of career fields and featuring professionals from diverse backgrounds. From scientists to entrepreneurs, artists to engineers, the fair provided a holistic view of potential career paths available to these enthusiastic students.
The students’ curiosity and passion were evident as they interacted with the professionals present at the fair. They asked thought-provoking questions, seeking advice on educational pathways, required skills, and the realities of working in different industries. It was inspiring to witness such young minds already considering their future paths and displaying a genuine interest in expanding their horizons.
Promoting Global Perspectives
One of the key highlights of the Career Fair, for me, was emphasizing on global opportunities in line with One To World’s vision that aims to foster intercultural exchange and global understanding among K-12 youth, Fulbright and international students, and communities in the New York metropolitan area. Through that ethos, I encouraged the middle school students I interacted with to think beyond the boundaries of their immediate surroundings. In this endeavor, I was helped by another international student, studying at Columbia University, who has participated extensively in One To World programs. Together, we discussed the importance of embracing diversity, developing cultural competency, and seizing opportunities beyond one’s comfort zone. Through these interactions, the students began to grasp the importance of cultural diversity, language skills, and a global mindset in today’s interconnected world, a vision both One To World and Atlas Corps share.
Impacting Future Career Choices
Middle school is a critical phase in a student’s life when they start forming their identities and developing their aspirations (Pfeifer 2019). As I interacted with them, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own mindset during that age. The contrast between my carefree childhood and the aspirations of these students struck me profoundly. Witnessing their determination and ambition at such a young age made me realize the transformative power of exposure to new cultures and opportunities. It highlighted the importance of initiatives like One To World’s Global Classroom program in shaping the next generation. By exposing them to a wide range of professions and providing insights into studying and working abroad, the fair opened doors to previously unexplored possibilities.
The event encouraged the students to think beyond traditional career paths and consider diverse fields that aligned with their passions and interests. It also highlighted the importance of early planning, academic excellence, and a commitment to lifelong learning (Mann et al 2020). By planting the seeds of ambition and providing the necessary guidance, the Career Fair empowered participating students to dream big and work towards achieving their goals.
The Career Fair brought together middle school students from I.S. 528, providing them with a unique platform to explore career options that included global opportunities promoted by One To World’s Global Classroom program. Witnessing the level of organization, the curiosity of the students, and their eagerness to study and work abroad left a lasting impression on me. The event showcased the transformative power of early exposure and guidance, igniting the passion for learning and expanding horizons in these young minds.
#AtlasCorps #OTW #interculturalexchange
Photo credits: Leeza Salen and Shawna Richardson