Category Archives: Doing Global Good

These posts feature organizations and do-gooders around the globe.

Friday Global Giving: Become a Rosetta Stone Supplement

I feel like this week I’ve been reading all kinds of posts about the growth and maintenance of languages. Moment Matters wrote a great post about Mandarin being the new global language. I also really enjoyed Loving Language’s post this week about the importance of the US becoming a multi-lingual nation. Yet even as there is push for learning and protecting languages, English remains in the highest demand by language learners due to it being the coined “global language”. For this reason, teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways for native-English speakers to live abroad with a legal work visa and a little money in their pocket. For anyone interested in exploring  the life of teaching English abroad, there are some great examples in the blogging world. Some of my favorites include:

  • Quinn in Morocco – she teaches English to children in Morocco through the Peace Corps
  • Our Dear Lady Expatriate – has been teaching English for several years, first in South Korea and now in Cambodia
  • Travel Thayer – an English teacher in an elementary school in South Korea

But teaching English is not limited to those of us that want/are able to live abroad. As I’ve worked with the refugee community in Oklahoma City, I’ve realized that for non-English speakers living in English-speaking countries, their needs for language training is extremely great. And there are tons of opportunities for us to help meet this need in our own hometowns. Here are just a few:

Teach in a Classroom Environment

Many religious groups, libraries, and non-for-profit organizations offer English as a Second Language courses. These courses typically meet once a week and are led by a certified TEFL instructor. If you are not TEFL certified, you can often still volunteer in the classroom helping the students with excises and practice conservations.

Serve as a Language Partner

If you prefer one-on-one interaction, becoming a language partner may be the best fit. This is a great way to build a relationship with a recent immigrant and can be mutually instructive if you are willing to learn the native language of your partner. If you prefer to do this virtually, The Mixxer is a site that helps match you with a language partner anywhere in the world.

Become an Online Language Coach

If you’re unable to find a language partner program or ESL course to volunteer in, another easy  opportunity is to volunteer online. Organizations like I Want to Learn English train volunteers to help English language learners practice their skills and ask questions. All you need is a computer and internet.

LanguagePartners5

While Rosetta Stone is certainly a helpful tool for a newly settled immigrant to learn the language, there is nothing like having a real person to help with pronunciation and context. If you’re looking for a way to give back and volunteer for the new year, helping someone learn English could be an ideal choice.

For more information on teaching English, check out this guide done by Colorado State University: Teaching Guide: ESL Volunteer Guide. It is a well-done resource.

How Do You Say It In [insert language here]?

There is a sweet little girl I work with regularly whose family has recently come to the US from Myanmar. English has not been a breeze for her but she is working hard and it is coming along. Today her third grade homework was to read a story about a tiger and then continue the story and answer the questions. We had read the whole story but when it came to making up a sentence or two to finish it off, she was stuck.

“How do you say tiger in your language?” I asked. “Kya” she responded. “Well, write that,” I said. In her imperfect print she wrote out “In my language a tiger is called kya.” This started a conversation amongst the other kids on how to say tiger in other languages. All of the sudden I heard tiger in Arabic, Georgian, Russian, and Spanish. I even added in Italian for good measure.

Siberian Tiger – taken by National Geographic

I think this will now be a regular question I ask these little ones. It helps them connect with their home country, teaches the other children and me something new, and keeps them speaking their native tongues.

Want to know some other ways to say tiger? Check out Wiktionary’s list. I’ve included a few for practice.

  • Afrikaans: tier
  • Amuzgo: kítzia
  • Belarusian: тыгр (tyhr)
  • Burmese: kya:
  • Czech: tygr
  • Finnish: tiikeri
  • Georgian: ვეფხვი (vep’xvi)
  • Hindi: बाघ (bāgh)
  • Irish: tíogar
  • Japanese: 虎 (torá)
  • Rohingya: bag
  • Russian: тигр (tigr) 
  • Swahili: chui-milia 
  • Zulu: ingwe

Friday Global Giving: I Need a (Volunteer) Vacation

I’ve always been told that when I give back, I have three resources I can share: time, talents, and treasure. While it’s great to support organizations and ministries through donations, there is nothing more influential than actually digging in with your own two hands and helping a worthy cause. If you search blogs, you’ll find a number of people who have given up time from work to serve in a community at home or abroad. Some of my favorites include:

  • Partners for Peace – a husband and wife duo serving with the Peace Corps in Ecuador
  • Soulshine Traveler – a woman who left her job to volunteer in Latin America and Russia for the past year
  • Clearing Customs – a recently returned missionary figuring out the transition back into American life

Unlike these great bloggers, unfortunately I am not in a place in life where I can go abroad for a long period of time and serve, but I do have some vacation time. This is where the volunteer vacation comes in. Whether you go with a religious organization or a secular non-for-profit, there are some incredible ways to get back abroad and serve. Volunteer vacations are ideal for young professionals, families with elementary through high school aged kids, recent retirees, and really just about anyone. As I’ve worked with students to help them figure out their “beyond study abroad” experience, here are some of the organizations that I think provide quality and culturally conscious volunteer vacation opportunities:

  • Global Volunteers: one of the pioneering organizations of volunteer vacations, this organization  is ideal for the volunteer who may only have a week off from work.
  • GlobeAware: another good org providing week-long volunteer vacations working in schools, teaching English, building, and skill training. Some project sites include Romania, Ghana, Mexico, and Cambodia.
  • World Teach: based at Harvard University, this organization sends volunteers to teach English around the world. This is a great option for college students and teachers as there is a commitment over the summer.
  • Cross-Cultural Solutions: this organization has both short and long-term volunteering options. Check out Soulshine Traveler’s blog for details on her experience with this group.

My senior year of college, I went with a group to Slovakia to work at an English activity camp for high school students. I gave up most of my winter break to be there but in return have wonderful memories and friends from the experience. As you start to plan you 2013 vacation plans, keep a volunteer vacation in mind.

Me in Presov, Slovakia with one of the Slovak students

Friday Global Giving: Operation Christmas Child

I do love this time of year in the US – everyone is excited for vacation time, being with family, and finding the perfect gifts for the dearest people in their lives. I am already gearing up for holiday shopping and will admit that I even started wrapping some gifts this week.

A few years ago Hubby and I decided to add an extra person to our Christmas shopping by participating in a program called Operation Christmas Child. The program is through Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that aids the world’s poor, sick, and hungry. Each November the organization works with local churches to collect shoe boxes full of toys and delivers them to children around the world.

For us, we love going to the toy store together and picking out what we’re going to put in our box each year. This year we’ve decided to do a 10-14 year-old girl so included crafts, notepads, socks, stickers, jewelry, and toiletries. While it’s not much, we do hope that it brightens some little girls day somewhere in the world.

If you are interested in participating in Operation Christmas Child, it is not too late! The boxes are being collected through November 19th and directions for packing and drop-off can be found here.  This is a great project to do with kids or as a group outing with friends or significant other. Who doesn’t like a date at the dollar store? For just a little bit of money and time, you could make a huge impact on a child in Haiti, Mongolia, Madagascar, or beyond.

The Culture of a Line

A few weeks ago I played Four Square for the first time in probably 20 years. All the kids were done with their homework so we headed out to the playground. It started with just 4 of us but within 15 minutes we had 20 kids playing the game ranging from 5-years-old to 15.  To me it was amazing that the older kids had no problem playing with the little ones. They even gave the smallest ones second chances so they wouldn’t have to get out so fast.

The only problem that came up during the game was waiting in line. No one wanted to wait their turn and if someone even stepped out of line to throw a candy wrapper away, their place was lost and they were forced to go to the end or fight to get their spot back. I never once had to referee the game but I ended up settling disputes about the line for the entire hour we played.

As I waited in line for an hour and half to vote last week, I had plenty of time to contemplate the cultural aspects of waiting in line. Behind me was a gentleman who continuously got out of line to talk on the phone, but the strangers around him let him back in each time. In Italy, I doubt that would have ever happen. In fact, from my experience, there would be no line. There would just be a herd of people who would eventually funnel their way into the door. It reminded me just how drastically different the concept of time and efficiency is my beloved Italy compared to my hometown of Oklahoma City.

Yep…this was my election line

I’m curious now if the problem of waiting in line for Four Square was an age issue or a cultural one.   Are these kids who came to the US from Iraq, Myanmar, Honduras, and Sudan taking on the impatience of American culture or just being kids who want to hurry up and play the game? It’s a question that I believe I’ll have to ponder on for a while, but in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy another game of Four Square.

Friday Global Giving: The Full Plate Club

When my mom was growing up, my grandparents instituted the Clean Plate Club. If she didn’t finish her dinner, she was told there were starving children in China who would love to eat her food. I think she responded with, “I’ll mail it to them.” 🙂

I think most parents now have substituted China with Africa but the sentiment is the same – don’t waste food when there are people going hungry every day. In fact, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 925 million people around the world suffer from consistent hunger.

While perhaps we can’t send the food from our plates, there are great organizations and things to do to help eliminate hunger around the world. For the first Friday Global Giving, check out some of these ideas to help keep plates full:

Courtesy of goldencommunitygarden.org

 

Global Giving Series

For the months of November and December, I decided to do a new series called Global Giving each Friday. For Americans these months are naturally a time we give. Many of us donate to the local food pantry to help stock for the holidays, donate coats for colder weather, or give to a favorite charity before the year-end. Whether you are Stateside or abroad, there are certainly hundreds if not thousands of great causes to give to no matter what time of year it is.

In the next eight weeks I’ll be doing research on global issues like hunger, clean water, healthcare, housing, children’s programs, and poverty and reporting on organizations I find, causes I personally give to, and hands-on ways to give on a global level.

As always, I’m taking recommendations. Whether you run a non-for-profit yourself or give consistently to one that you feel is worthy, please share!