Dean Azman points to an electronic whiteboard in front of a classroom.
Dean Azman teaches Alexander High School students about Malaysia. [Jack Demmler | WOUB]

An Ohio University group brings the world to local classrooms

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ALBANY, Ohio – Alexander High School welcomed five international guest speakers last week for a global education 

The speakers are a part of the Ohio Valley International Council’s (OVIC) efforts to promote learning about cultures around the world. 

“We hope the students will have a wider perspective on the world and to realize the world isn’t just out there,” Catherine Cutcher said. “We tend to be very focused on ourselves and our own country and we have to realize we are only five percent of the worlds people.”

Two people stand in front of a classroom of high school students. An electronic whiteboard behind them displays facts about cultures around the world.
Students at Alexander High School heard from speakers from Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Thailand. [Jack Demmler | WOUB]
Cutcher is the Associate Director of the Center for International Studies at Ohio University, which has the OVIC as its outreach arm. 

The council first formed in the 1980s, focused on connecting local students with people from around the world.

Kirk Crow’s social studies class at Alexander High school welcomed speakers from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and India on Friday. 

Dean Azman, a foreign language teaching assistant at Ohio University, introduced students to his home country of Malaysia.  

“I’m really looking forward to going to the schools and meeting the people, especially the students and teachers and tell them about my country,” Azman said.  

The OVIC’s efforts to connect local students to the globe encouraged Associate Professor of Education Yuchun Zhou to help create another outreach programs. 

The Global Education Fairs will take place at The Plains Middle School and Athens High School this month.  

“We can improve (the students’) global capacities … and if we can give this kind of training education to them as early as possible then they can benefit from it,” Zhou said. 

The Global Education Fairs are a more hands-on approach to global education. Students will travel around the world within the confines of their own school, visiting booths for different countries and interacting with cultural items and information. 

Outreach programs like the fairs and the speaker series not only benefit students in Athens County. International students visiting have said it benefits them, too. “The international were also very excited to visit the local schools so they could get a better sense of how education works in the United States,” Cutcher said. “So it was a win-win situation.” 

Cutcher said she hopes to expand these outreach efforts by getting more students and more countries involved.