Students, teachers, administrators, and alumni were interviewed to explore their understandings of global citizenship education. There were 4 students that participated in 3 in-depth interviews each. There were 7 teachers that participated in 1 in-depth interview each. There were 3 alumnae that participated in 1 in-depth interview each.
A junior at Olive Grove, Karim cherishes the discussion-driven environment his school has created, which allows him to freely express his ideas on various issues, some of which remain taboos in the Jordanian society at large. His particular penchant for public speaking and passion for activism also motivated him to establish a mock trial club with his close friends at Olive Grove, which he admits has been an essential part of his life. As an individual with a strong sense of moral duty and social justice, Karim was inspired by the plight of the Syrian refugees in Jordan to participate in weekly community service trips where he assists the refugees in rebuilding their lives, in the process of which he develops a deeper understanding of his responsibility to help less fortunate members of the community. Having lived in two different countries and travelled to a dozen more, Karim is, without a doubt, keenly aware of the diversity of cultures and leverage that knowledge in interacting with his peers who come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. He also regularly participates in Dabke (traditional Jordanian dance) and Arab cultural activities at Olive Grove, which he strongly believes have helped him better appreciate the uniqueness of the Jordanian culture and its interactions with other cultures in the Middle East. An aspiring author, Karim highly values creativity and plans to major in literature at a top liberal arts college in America.
Widely known in the school as the Eminem of Olive Grove, Tariq is an exceptionally talented musician with a particular penchant for Hip-Hop, which he admits has been his main source of inspiration for mastering the English language. He considers rapping an integral part of his identity and a way to freely and creatively express his opinions. Perhaps most striking about Tariq is his intense inner drive to be successful. As the son of a Palestinian mother, Tariq often finds himself in conflict with members of his father’s predominantly Arab family who look down on his family, motivating him to always strive to achieve the best. He keeps a particularly demanding schedule that balances numerous AP classes, co-curriculars and community service while allocating some time for him to explore his passion for rap music. His strong sense of empathy for those who are less fortunate and his exceptional rapping skills also encourage Tariq to organize regular band performances, through which he and his peers raise money for charities that support local orphans. Tariq also treasures the multicultural environment present at Olive Grove as it offers him opportunities to understand and respect people who may hold widely different ideals and values, allowing him to emerge as a global citizen.
As the youngest daughter of an engineer and a scientist, Fatima has unsurprisingly always found herself the center of her family’s expectations. Yet, she believes that her greatest source of pressure comes from her inner desire to become an extraordinary person and lead a fulfilling life, encouraging her to participate in a wide range of non-academic activities including soccer, Model United Nations and Dabke (Jordanian dance). Fatima also devotes a substantial portion of her time to promoting reading among children at a nearby refugee camp which she believes has allowed her to truly understand the plight of the refugees and spurred her desire to become a human rights lawyer. Moreover, she is appreciative of the cultural diversity present at Olive Grove since it has helped her foster a stronger understanding and sense of belonging to her Jordanian culture. She yearns to attend a large and established American college which she imagines would afford her abundant opportunities to interact with people from different backgrounds. Despite a demanding schedule that affords her almost no time off school, Fatima has always maintained a close relationship with her family, especially her grandmother whose stories and experiences have always been an important source of inspiration and encouragement.
Layla exemplifies the type of student Olive Grove aims to develop: an independent and exceptionally well-rounded individual whose intellectual, social and moral aspirations, coupled with a keen sense of global citizenship, position her as a future leader of Jordan. Having watched her mother build a tremendously successful business from square one in a largely patriarchal society, Layla firmly believes in her capacity to attain any goals she sets for herself through hard work and the willingness to learn, which has proven to be the source of her outstanding academic performance. Besides academics, Layla has found herself taking part in a plethora of activities, including dancing and public speaking. Through her participation in various international platforms such as Model UN, Seeds of Peace and Round Square, Layla has also been actively showcasing and promoting the beauty and uniqueness of the Arab culture to her peers across the globe. She strongly feels that it is her responsibility to recognize and understand the diversity of perspectives across different cultures and religions. Furthermore, Layla is passionate about promoting a more positive and accurate image of Islam, which she thinks has been mostly misrepresented in the West, through her interactions with people from different backgrounds at and beyond Olive Grove.
As one of the first to graduate from Olive Grove, Halim elected to major in biomedical engineering at an elite institution in America. Even though he admits that he is not as active as many fellow alumni, he feels deeply grateful to Olive Grove for her holistic and global approach to education which thoroughly prepared him for college, academically and mentally. In particular, the diversity he witnessed and the interactions he had with international students at Olive Grove have allowed him to integrate seamlessly with peers from around the globe at his American college. Moreover, Halim also believes that the numerous overseas community service trips in which he participated during his time at Olive Grove significantly widened his perspective and opened his eyes to the extraordinary lives of many around the world. Despite his fulfilling college experience, Halim often reminisces about the close-knit community feel at Olive Grove which seems to be lacking at his college, motivating him to partake in a variety of activities.
Dalila considers the discussion-driven environment and the focus on critical thinking she experienced at Olive Grove her main motivation for electing to attend a small elite liberal arts institution in New England. Like many of her peers, she strongly feels that Olive Grove’s approach to learning has thoroughly prepared her for a college education in America, in particular, by exposing her to the diversity of cultures and opinions. Olive Grove opened Dalila’s eyes to ethnical and religious differences, inspiring her to contemplate many issues so commonly found in the Middle East. Furthermore, the discussion-based environment at Olive Grove encouraged Tala to express her opinions on a wide range of issues which she plans to continue doing in college. In addition, Olive Grove also offered her opportunities to partake in Habitat for Humanity, Reclaim Childhood and Round Square, all of which have greatly influenced the way she views the world. Dalila considers attending Olive Grove a privilege and plans to give back to the school as well as her home country.
Administrators and teachers
Trained as a music teacher, Ms. Amjad elected to join Olive Grove in its early days as she believed it possessed the potential to revitalize the dormant music scene in Jordan. Now an associate dean of students, Ms. Amjad has witnessed Olive Grove’s phenomenal growth into a global school whose focus on global citizenship and experiential learning differentiates it from other schools in the region. She particularly values the world religion course offered at Olive Grove as she believes it serves as a foundation upon which her students’ understanding and acceptance of diversity can be built. She strongly feels that Olive Grove has effectively promoted an open environment where discussions and debates on various issues are encouraged. Despite the initial setbacks she faced as a new teacher, Ms. Amjad considers her time at Olive Grove rewarding as she is indeed playing a part in grooming a new generation of globally minded and empathetic leaders who would do their best in the service of Jordan.
A self-proclaimed product of boarding schools, Dr. Thomas has been the driving force behind Olive Grove’s success since its inception. He strong believes that deep learning and an interactive environment are at the core of a holistic education and strives to promote such an environment at Olive Grove. Dr. Thomas feels that relationships characterized by openness and understanding between students and faculty members bring out the best in students. He also thinks that the boarding school environment at Olive Grove plays an indispensable role in differentiating it from other schools in Jordan because it provides the students with a unique environment to develop the necessary skills to navigate across differences. A strong believer in diversity, Dr. Thomas concurs that without the diversity of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, made possible in part by Olive Grove’s commitment to providing financial aid, the school would not be as attractive an institution. On the value of community service, Dr. Thomas places the priority on contributing communities before venturing out to other parts of the world. With regard to the subject of global citizenship, he insists that the concept should start first with teaching students to be good citizens who possess the ability to operate across difference and perform civic duties in society.