Educating for Global Citizenship for Early Childhood Students
“The Journey of the Mayan Turtle”
Germán Padín cmf
Pastoral Coordinator, CODEMA School, Gijón, Spain
We ask ourselves: Is it possible to disseminate, raise awareness and educate about global citizenship, sustainable development, migration and cultural diversity, the SDGs, and the encyclical “Laudato Sí” to children of infant age?
- Framing of the project
People have permanently moved from one place to another, sometimes in search of better opportunities, in other cases, to flee from danger. There are welcoming and rejecting reactions. Some want to help, and others to exclude.
As a Claretian and Church school, we take on the challenge of evangelizing the culture with our educational work. Raising awareness of social commitment and solidarity is part of the integral education that we carry out, which is reflected in our educational project. The Word, our Claretian Ideology, the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (ODS 2030) help us to enable our students to grow with a global Christian outlook; feeling involved from “right now” in the transformation and improvement of the world.
In response to the current needs of our reality, we decided to work on the phenomenon of MIGRATION and, specifically, in Infants with this project.
Several didactic resources have been used. First, as a motivational axis, we used the narration of the story “The turtles’ journey,” where a little turtle named Maya narrates her migratory experience.
An African saying goes: “Birds are brilliant, and if you observe them, you can learn a lot from them.”
This reflection serves us to carry out the mission of making the migratory reality known to children from the movement of the animal world.
The tools to carry out this mission start, at first, from the Earth Charter, with the premise of knowing how to take care of life, with parameters of understanding, compassion, and love for everything created. They are also based on the 2030 SDGs to ensure education (SDG4), conserve the seas (SDG14), and promote peaceful societies (SDG16).
Peaceful societies must become the shared home, with a true ecological conscience and not a slap in the face of Creation. “She is our sister in whom we share our existence and like a mother who welcomes us in her arms.” Genuine praise for life and care for all that is created.
Creation teaches us the need for a profound review of our individual and collective actions for the care of the planet – a “common home” with an inclusive and ecumenical scope.
Every citizen has the right to a name and a land in which to develop his or her potential just by looking at “the lilies of the field that do not toil…” We seek to embody the values of Ruth the Moabitess: dedication, respect, work, tolerance, and tenderness… Because all the world’s children have the right to be educated in a spirit of friendship, tolerance, peace, and fraternity. All children, even those who cross the Mediterranean Sea, the borders of the USA, or Haiti, in a boat…
- The Signs of the Times
As a Claretian School, they belong to the network of Centers of the Province of Santiago. During this and the next course, we embark on a joint proposal of Education and Awareness for the Development and Global Citizenship called “The world is my neighborhood,” facilitated by the ONGD Proclade Foundation, destined to make visible and act on certain vulnerable migrant groups in Europe.
At the same time and in parallel, we work closely with our Parish Caritas, in which 78% of users are migrants, to help make visible their reality far from stereotypes or media misinformation in our region.
Coexistence, respect for differences, equal rights and obligations as persons and citizens, the construction of a Church and a humanly rich and diverse society, that is to say; an authentic “integration” continues to be a long-term task that we keep very much in mind.
Concerning the PROCLADE project of the 2020-2022 academic year, “Social Action in Europe,” and more specifically with migrations, we have carried out an activity of awareness and knowledge of the situations that are occurring in environments close to ours.
Starting from migration as a forced need to leave your place of birth in search of a better future, we analyzed the difficulty of adapting to new environments for those who have to start their lives in another location with different customs and ways of life.
Before starting the project, we had been anticipating the topic of migration through the daily prayers in the classroom so that the students would be aware of this reality.
To facilitate the understanding of these concepts and situations, we have used storytelling as a didactic resource, stories… since it predisposes the students to put themselves in the place of the protagonists and thus better understand how they may feel, how they adapt to new ways of life, assuming active roles…
We begin the project with “The story of the Maya turtle,” a small animal forced to leave with his family and his fellows to another sea since the one in which his species lives is polluted and has become a hostile place. At that moment, his adventure begins in his family’s company; it is a long journey in search of a new habitat, to which he will have to adapt and meet new species.
A selection of readings animated by the children’s teachers in an online format and shared among the different levels of the stage simultaneously through Teams has been counted and enjoyed. Some of the titles used were: “37 turtles”, “Turtles never sleep,” and “Eloisa and the bugs,” a fantastic illustrated album that makes us participate in the story of Eloisa and her father at the time of their arrival in a strange new city where the inhabitants are insects and only they are human. Yet, as time goes by, they manage to interact with the insects and make a place for themselves in the city, even though it is not their place of origin.
Subsequently, each Infant class set their imagination in motion and designed different species of turtles using other plastic techniques and reusing various materials: egg cups, CDs, and cardboard. Then, together, we simulated at the exit of the school, the long way that involves the migration of all the turtles that, like Maya, were looking for a foster home among the families of our students who were willing to take them in.
Due to the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was impossible to invite families to come to the center to see the turtles and participate, on a voluntary basis, in adopting one of them. For this reason, and to involve the families in the project, each tutor made a poster with a photo of their terrarium and sent it to their families so they could voluntarily make a financial contribution. The money raised was destined for the PROCLADE Project, thus collaborating with Sustainable Development Goal 10, related to the reduction of inequalities and the need that, as it happens with turtles in their migration, no one is left behind in any country in the world.
- Usefulness and strengths
We understand that one of the main strengths of the project is its versatility and ease of implementation since several centers of our Claretian Province of Santiago have already shown interest in it implementing it in its entirety.
The project implies excellent visibility in the public environment of the school. From the formation and work in the classroom, passing through the involvement, awareness, and economic contribution of the families, to finish taking our social commitment outside the school walls with monthly public meetings. All these activities intend to make visible, before the rest of the citizenship, the problematic approach and the work that the Church carries out in this field. We understand that the richness and the transversality of the project make this a vibrant model and easily applicable in other pastoral positions.
Germán Padín cmf