Minions and Dragons
Wait, wait, hold up: South Africa?
Yes! The capstone experience of the GK (Global Kids) DC Summer Institute is an international service-learning project. This year, fifteen students will travel to South Africa in early August to partner with organizations such as SA-Yes Youth Mentoring, a program that assists young people aging out of children’s homes and transitioning to independence. Additional areas the Summer Institute cohort intends to explore are racial and economic justice and LGBTQ rights.
But hang on, I’m so excited about South Africa I’m getting ahead of myself again. Let’s back up even further.
Each summer, 25-30 DC-area teens participate in the Institute. Students normally find the program via its partnership with the Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute, a program of the DC Department of Employment Services. The Summer Institute is classified as a job site in the District’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which means participants don’t have to choose between earning money now and preparing for a global career in the future.
Most mornings in the program start with a discussion of current events, followed by games and activities introducing central concepts and issues in international affairs. On a June afternoon, students engaged in a lively discussion about the history of the black and LGBTQ rights movements, inspired by a “Democracy Now” headline and buzz about a petition to replace the Confederate flag with a rainbow flag.
After that, a boisterous game about trade and globalism: The Incredible Minions battled the Black Dragons to be the first to identify the company, and countries of origin and manufacture of products such as iPhones, Air Jordans, and Beat headphones. Turns out these kids are as good at tracing global manufacturing paths as they are at picking awesome team names. (Next)