An Innovative Approach to Growing Compassionate Global Citizens
Day #1: The Inspiration and the Rationale
The goal of World Wise Adventures is to foster the growth of compassionate, informed and engaged global citizens through meaningful interactions with diverse local and global communities.
When my young daughter and I traveled to Mexico for the filming of Skeletons and Sea Turtles, we guided hundreds of Olive Ridley hatchlings safely into the sea. We also visited an iguana preserve, and we met a young boy who ate fish three times a day, walked to school barefoot and played video games outside under a palm tree. One night we sat with him on a deserted beach and watched a sea turtle laying her eggs. It was a profound experience that none of us will ever forget.
Remember in the classic children’s book, Island of the Blue Dolphins, when the young girl, Karana, decided to stop hunting otters? It was getting to know just one that made all the difference: “… animals and birds are like people, too, though they do not talk the same or do the same things. Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.”
It’s hard to call any person or animal a stranger, once you have looked him in the eyes.
That is what inspired World Wise Adventures.
Most children grow up at the center of a narrow universe that includes home, family, friends, neighborhood and school. Learning about other countries becomes just another homework assignment —- rarely connected to the concept that there are real people living there, who lead lives not so very different from their own. All too often, these children grow into adults, who discover distant places only when war or disaster forces them onto the front page and the evening news. This lack of awareness can lead to intolerance and prejudice.
Fostering sensitivity to global cultures is essential in today’s world. The issues, actions and beliefs that affect the lives of people in far away places have a powerful impact close to home as well. Immigrants from a wider variety of regions are joining our population in greater numbers than ever before, creating unprecedented diversity in our local communities. Parks and playgrounds in cities across the United States are filled with children from everywhere. Some are recent arrivals; others were born here but still have many family members living in another country.
World Wise Adventures helps young people gain a deeper understanding of their classmates and neighbors, who might look, talk, eat and dress a bit differently. And those who are newcomers or from minority cultures will feel more valued for the richness they add to the tapestry of our local and national communities.
Cultivating awareness of world environments is equally important. A growing number of species face extinction, the proliferation of international trade transforms foreign problems into issues of local concern, and climate change is threatening the very nature of our survival. World Wise Adventures inspires concern about the health of our planet, and all of its inhabitants, through real stories about people who are taking action to protect their local wildlife and ecosystems.
To realize this ambitious vision, we are working work with nonprofit organizations that are engaged in community and environmental programs. We, in turn, are creating multimedia materials, which document and support their efforts, appeal to young viewers, parents and educators, and carry a compelling message of global consciousness into homes, schools and libraries across the nation and around the world.
Gail Evenari has been working as a filmmaker and educator for over 30 years. In 1993 she founded Maiden Voyage Productions, a California 501(c)3 nonprofit that produces award-winning educational media and documentary films.
Filmmaking & Service in Israel for teens — Skeletons & Sea Turtles in Mexico for children