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Building global connections encourages learners to build and maintain global relationships through authentic and meaningful experiences, and shared learning opportunities.

It supports learners to develop a deeper understanding of diversity, inclusion, intercultural awareness, intercultural communication and intercultural learning.*

Cartoon images of children jumping happily around a globe.

Building global connections fosters curiosity to learn about cultures, languages, people and places within our local and global communities.

© Lorelyn Medina, 123RF

Why global connections matter

Building global connections is fundamental to learning to engage effectively with people from other countries, cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Building global connections also underpins effective responses to global challenges as it equips learners with the skills, knowledge, and understandings to effectively communicate, collaborate, and take action in ways that are culturally and socially inclusive, equitable and sustainable. 

This tohu (icon) represents global connections. It is based on the idea of shared humanity and diversity.

Multiple coloured triangles within a larger triangle, designed to represent global connections

Global connections value the diversity within our shared humanity

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

The large blue triangle holds the collective relationship, while the small teal triangles represent the coming together of many people. The small yellow triangles represent the individual (rangatahi or young person) who is centred within this huge collective. The tohu emphasises that they are a critical part of the whole.

Building global connections within local community

The local community is an opportune place to build global connections. Aotearoa New Zealand is a multicultural society, and this diversity is reflected in our school communities. This offers a valuable opportunity for schools, teachers, and young people to learn from the rich cultural knowledge, skills and expertise held by families and cultural and ethnic groups within the school community.

School students at a large table doing a paper activity with a Thai tertiary student

A tertiary student shares some of her Thai culture with students at Liberton School in Dunedin

Building global connections within learners’ local communities provides authentic opportunities for learners to strengthen their intercultural awareness, communication, and learning through meaningful shared experiences. Young people learn about diversity and inclusion through authentic relationships. These relationships also support the development of the skills needed to respond sensitively, responsibly and collaboratively within the global context. 

Learning languages is an important way to build local and global connections. Learning languages encourages teachers and learners to experience the integral relationship between language, culture and identity. It helps learners strengthen oral, visual and written modes of communication, and helps them understand the role that language plays in shaping our world.

Classroom wall with a banner saying 'Mandarin' and examples of student work

Learning languages enables young people to understand the role that language plays in shaping our world

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

Through learning languages, young people develop the ability to think in new ways, ask different kinds of questions,and gain a deeper understanding of the local and global communities in which they live.

This clip highlights the way that Oropi School intentionally integrates learning languages throughout their school curriculum. Through their intercultural learning and teaching programme, students learn about culture and language, while also challenging their own assumptions and biases.

Learning languages and developing intercultural understanding is a priority at Oropi Primary School

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

Building global connections beyond Aotearoa

Building global connections encourages learners to look beyond Aotearoa and build connections within our geographic region – the Asia-Pacific. Building learner-to-learner relationships across countries is most effective when young people can collaborate on authentic projects that address similar issues and challenges within our own backyards (e.g. climate change, pandemic, natural disasters, Indigenous rights).

Global citizenship education at Oropi School takes place inside and outside the classroom

Global citizenship education at Oropi School takes place inside and outside the classroom

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

Through working together, young people can learn about each other’s cultural and geographical contexts, as well as develop language and intercultural communication skills. 

Sustainable Development Goal 4.7.1 aims for all countries to mainstream global citizenship education within their schools and curriculums. This gives schools and teachers a unique opportunity to connect with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region to collaborate on projects in an authentic, meaningful and culturally responsive way.

This clip showcases how Oropi primary school builds global connections and integrates these opportunities throughout their school curriculum. It shows that while building global connections takes time, effort and creative timetabling, the learning opportunities for young people are transformational.

Oropi primary school integrates global connections throughout their school curriculum

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

This clip demonstrates how tauira from Ngā Taiātea wharekura have developed a stronger sense of their own identity through building connections with people, places, and cultures other than their own.

Global connections provide invaluable opportunities for learning about ourselves and others

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

* intercultural awareness and understanding: an awareness and understanding of, and sensitivity towards, the way people from different countries, cultures and ethnic backgrounds act, interact, communicate, and make sense of the world around them.

intercultural communication: the ability to effectively and sensitively communicate with people from different countries, cultures and ethnic backgrounds.  

intercultural learning: knowing about different cultures, and being able to apply this knowledge in context. This includes knowing how to act, relate, communicate and live effectively within different cultural contexts.

Useful links

Find out more about Oropi School’s intercultural strategy and how this is supported through connections with a sister school Hangzhou. 

Visit the AFS New Zealand’s Intercultural Learning Resources to learn more about intercultural learning and building global connections.

Language opens important doors to culture. Explore Learning Languages on TKI to access a wide range of teacher resources and learning guides.

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