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Walking Tree Travel has developed tools that will help our travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame the group’s experience, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively on our programs now and into the future. At its core, the first step toward global leadership is developing intercultural competence – “a set of cognitive skills that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts”. Essentially, we want our participants to have the ability to collaborate with people who are different from them and to thrive within different cultures. Our activities also encourages students to take initiative as leaders in their local communities to make a difference on a global scale, helping them to understand the impact they can have when they combine cultural understanding with personal and social responsibility.

Below are the student learning objectives addressed by the GLA, which are also the key components of intercultural competence as described above. Each activity will address a minimum of two or more of these objectives.

Student Learning Objectives:

Cultural Worldview Frameworks

Personal and Social Responsibility

Curiosity

Empathy

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Cultural Self-Awareness

Openness

The Walking Tree Travel Global Leadership Activities are divided into three sections: Pre-Program (before students depart on their program), In-Country (during the program), and Post-Program (after students return).

Pre-Program Activities

Our pre-program activities are designed to guide students to think intentionally about culture and identity so that they can better understand how their perspectives are shaped. Students will learn the importance of suspending immediate judgments when they are exposed to a new culture or environment, and will gain practice describing situations or experiences objectively. Some of the exercises will introduce students to personal and social responsibilities and ask them to think critically about their impact on their host community.

In-Country Activities

Throughout their program, students will be asked to draw on their experiences in the host country to make observations regarding cultural differences and similarities. Each student will be challenged to reflect on their interactions with locals and to discuss with the group how these experiences may have changed their perception of what culture, identity, and social responsibility can look like in different contexts. These exercises will help students process their time abroad and consider the ways in which they may be able to bring their new knowledge, skills, and attitudes back to their local communities when they return from their trip.

Post-Program Activities and Resources

Students need support and guidance after they return from their program in order to process their time abroad and translate their new skills and perspectives into life back home. This is why we provide activities that promote student reflection, followed by intentional action, in their local community. Students will practice articulating the knowledge and cultural competence they have gained abroad to help them express their experience in college essays, job interviews, and beyond. We also include important resources for parents that help them understand their child’s experiences abroad and support them in adjusting to life back home. Once a participant registers for a program, they will be sent more information regarding this important aspect of our programs.

Meet the GLA Developer

Becca Sheffield

Becca is the lead co-developer of Walking Tree’s Global Leadership Activities, which were originally designed during her graduate studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Launched in 2016, the activities focus on student learning objectives which foster student growth, open-mindedness, and intercultural competence. Her expertise surrounding youth engagement, cultural competence, and curriculum development has brought together concepts and strategies from experts in these fields, using engaging videos, activities, and discussions to spark student learning. Becca is dedicated to helping students gain the skills and characteristics that are essential for them to become successful, thoughtful global citizens and leaders.

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