The Global Action Program at ISKL: It’s Not Just About the Travel!
Brian Hall joined ISKL in August 2020 as the new Director of the Global Action Program (GAP).
This is the first in a series of articles he will be sharing on how our students and we as a community can reimagine our role as global citizens during this unusual moment in time.
Six years ago, I was teaching at a school in Seoul and had also taken on the position of coordinating the student travel program. This annual travel week was a highlight for students and teachers alike, and I wanted to be sure we were leveraging as much from it as we could in light of the considerable time and resources there were committed to it.
I knew that many international schools sponsored similar travel and began to research fresh ideas to improve our program. It wasn't long before I found myself on the ISKL website, reading about GAP. I recall being impressed by its clarity of purpose that was aligned with the school's mission statement. There was also a photo of the teacher who directed GAP, Julie James, and I recall thinking how cool it would be to lead a program like this in the future.
Well, six years later, thanks to Julie's retirement and some very good luck, here I am at ISKL as the new Director of GAP, and I couldn't be happier.
It's certainly a challenging time to be assuming this position. Only half of the student body is on campus, and we can't even travel more than 10 km from our homes without permission. In this current reality, a GAP trip seems both a distant memory and wishful thinking.
But in some ways, this is a uniquely perfect time to be stepping into this position. I think it's safe to assume that if you were to ask students, teachers, and parents about the purpose of GAP, the majority would mention the trip each November. And while those trips are meaningful and memorable, I would argue they are just one GAP element. It's in a unique time like now that we can emphasize the other important elements of the program and remind everyone that GAP is not just about the travel.
GAP evolves directly from the Mission and Vision of ISKL. The Mission statement refers to "...an exceptional education...that creates socially responsible global citizens." The Vision statement calls students to "...action that is inspired." Our definition of global citizenship describes a student who can "develop and synthesize attitudes, skills, knowledge, and understanding that empower them to be contributing and active global citizens in an interconnected world."
Does traveling to various parts of Asia each November to work with our GAP partner communities play an important part in helping our students fulfill the Mission and Vision of ISKL and contribute to the goal of them becoming better global citizens? Yes, it absolutely does. But there is also much we can do right here in Malaysia, around Kuala Lumpur, and on-campus to achieve our goals. And there is no better time than this unique year when we have no other choice but to focus on new ways to help our students and ourselves see the world through another lens of global engagement and citizenship.
About Brian Hall
Before ISKL, Brian Hall taught Social Studies and managed the Discovery Week program at the Seoul Foreign School. Teaching is his second career; his first was in city government, focusing on urban planning and development. He holds a Master's degree in Public Administration and another in Secondary Education.
Brian is here with his wife Lisa, also an educator, and this is their fourteenth year overseas, with prior stops in Australia, Japan, South Korea and Germany. They have three adult children, all living in the USA, who wish they were still overseas with their parents.