Veronica was in my sophomore World Studies class and graduated a few years ago. She stopped by to tell me how influenced she was by the Japanese art and poetry contest I run for our school district, as well as by my international inclusion in class in general. She won that contest with a painting, earning her a $50 check from OSU’s Institute for Japanese Studies. Still she was one of many winners. I could not have anticipated that she would go on to study art at the Columbus College of Art and Design. I never imagined that she would learn to create art in various international styles. And I could not have foreseen that she would now be working toward becoming an art teacher. Teachers plant seeds, but do not know how they will grow.
As we continue to wage the necessary political fights to protect collective bargaining and to promote student learning, I want to challenge everyone to not lose sight of the rest of the world. Continue to bring the world to our students. Teach students to walk in the footprints of others. Seek out opportunities for them to explore beyond themselves. If you have an opportunity to travel, to host an international student or teacher, to use technology to talk directly with people all over the world or to cooperate on a project together, then share it with the students. And when you create the opportunity to reduce someone’s suffering anywhere in the world, through disaster relief donations, the giving of water buffaloes or other animals, or by folding a thousand paper cranes, share that with the students. Not only will it make the world a better place, but it will empower our students.
By Rob Fetters, Mount Vernon Education Association
Rob Fetters is the 2012 recipient of the NEA Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding Award and the OEA Paul Swaddling Peace and International Understanding Award. Both awards recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion or execution of the cause of peace and international understanding.