We strive to cultivate a diverse and vibrant school community, bringing the city's many resources into our school and our children into the city so they may develop a personal sense of stewardship and social responsibility. We also connect globally, partnering with The American School in Guadalajara and addressing global issues through our curriculum. Middle School students have the opportunity to participate in the Global Issues Network (GIN) Conference, an immersive and transformative overseas experience that teaches cross-cultural competence and empowerment. Providing an atmosphere of global thinking and ethical decision making opens the minds of our students to navigate the world in which they live.
Since 2008, Catherine Cook has been proud to partner with the American School Foundation of Guadalajara (ASFG) to provide meaningful exchange opportunities for Middle School students. Each winter, we welcome a group of students from ASFG to Chicago. They are paired with an 8th Grade host family and are Catherine Cook students for a week! While they visit, they attend regular classes, service learning activities, and special field trips. In 2017, the group went ice skating, played WhirlyBall, and ventured out to the Willis Tower, among other exciting adventures. Catherine Cook students have also had the chance to visit ASFG in Guadalajara over the years. These exchanges offer students an important link to the global community, allowing them to experience new people, places, and learning opportunities through their peers.
Each year, Middle School students participate in the Global Issues Network (GIN) Conference as an extension of their work in small groups at Catherine Cook. Student groups identify an important global issue that impacts their lives, research it, and strategize ways to solve it. For 2016-2017, GIN groups focused on plastic usage and the Asian carp invasive species. In March, the students traveled to Panama to meet with other engaged and motivated students from around the world.
As part of this student-led conference, Catherine Cook 7th and 8th Graders were immersed in difficult world problems and the various and creative ways that adults and other young people tackle them. From issues of social justice and equality to environmental crises, our students faced the conference with open minds and a global mindset. In addition to the hard work of challenging these issues, students also had time to engage with each other and build and strengthen relationships with students from our partner school in Guadalajara, Mexico, and around Latin America.
These conferences also provide an opportunity for students to expand their cultural knowledge, exploring a new city, meeting new people, and enjoying local landmarks and cuisine. Back at Catherine Cook, students will share their knowledge and inspire the rest of our community to take action about these important issues.