2018 Brings a Focus on Bicycles

We survived the “bomb cyclone” snowstorm here in western New Hampshire and the temperature today is a balmy 3F (-13F with the wind chill) but I’ll ignore that. This is much warmer than Monday’s low of -29F.  What better thing to focus on in my Global Studies class than studying the importance of bicycles and planning a June cycling tour?

This term my high school Global Studies class is focused on the importance of bicycles in the global community. People ride bikes for sport, health, transportation, education, commerce, medical care, among myriad other reasons.  What sparked this focus in my colleague, Story Graves, wanting to organize a student cycling tour to Canada. I had an open block where I needed to teach a class this term so we offered a Global Studies class that culimates in a June cycling tour from Orford, NH to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Students actually signed up for the class and some have already committed to training and fundraising for the 600-mile round trip ride. Our goal for the tour is to challenge and inspire student learning, confidence, and global awareness.

While I have been riding bikes as a triathlete for past 10 years, I had not deeply considered how important bikes are for everyday life in many parts of the world. Living in a rural area means that I drive. EVERYWHERE.  My bike is used solely for workouts, racing, or social events.  I even drive my bike to places where I want to ride.  Teaching this class has opened the door to a new emphasis on cycling as life for millions of people worldwide.

Here is one story that changed my thinking. Enjoy and stay tuned for updates on our learning and global cycling adventure.


Photo credit: http://www.wbur.org. Story by Karen Given





As part of our Teachers for Global Classroom coursework, we had to create a Pinterest board.  According to Pinterest for DummiesPinterest is an online pinboard, a visual take on the social bookmarking site. Unlike other social bookmarking sites, such as Digg and StumbleUpon, content shared onPinterest is driven entirely by visuals. In fact, you can’t share something on Pinterest unless an image is involved.  In other words, it is an online cork board where you can pin and categorize images that interest you.

Pinterest is a great resource for images related to all aspects of Global Education and pins can take you to the source website of the image. Check out my board here: (while the images embedded only reflect pins for prom planning, there are actually global education boards there I promise!) You can also find other great resources for all aspects of teaching and learning.  Warning: Pinterest is addicting!

How to video:


Women’s Empowerment


India is a dichotomy on many issues especially women’s issues. There is a big push for female empowerment which was evident in the school. The young women we interacted with were very academically successful, well spoken, and aware of a variety of global issues. We had the privilege of attending a Women’s Empowerment Panel Discussion where 4 students had been asked to give speeches on the topic and then lead a question and answer session.

Indian culture is a patriarchy. Many students not only live with their parents but also their paternal grandparents and dad/grandfather generally have the final say on issues although many girls are starting to speak up more in the home. This is not the norm though. The two big things that I noticed were:  most men that I saw in the 3 cities that we were in wear western style dress. In Bangalore and Kolkata, women wear saris or salwar kameez which is the more traditional dress. The few women wearing western business attire work for the multinational tech firms or were flight attendants in uniform.  In Delhi, some women wore skinny jeans, shirts, and heels and I even saw a few women wearing shorts. I wonder why women wear traditional dress and the men don’t. Because we flew from Bangalore to Kolkata and then from Kolkata to Delhi, we had to go through airport security for domestic flights. There are “women only” lines for going through security and I was not allowed to go through the men’s line in Kolkata and had to walk over to the women’s line to be body scanned with the hand scanner by a female TSA type officer. If the country is pushing for more equality and empowerment, why are there still separate lines? We also experienced this going into different cultural attractions and restaurants. Apparently there are also female only train cars for train travel. How is the concept of “separate but equal” going to bring true equality to both genders in India?

Here are 2 articles that take the issue more in-depth.

Gender Equity Issues in India

Women’s Rights Issues in India: Problems and Prospects

School Culture at Shri Shikshayatan School

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Shri Shikshayatan School’s culture is strong. Students are proud to attend what is one of Kolkata’s best preK-12 private schools, they want to do well, and exhibited great respect for themselves, each other, and their teachers.  We learned through  a walk through of the primary grades that students learn early to stand when a teacher enters or leaves a room and to say “Good morning ma’am.” Leadership is stressed and students had a variety of opportunities to practice speaking in public, get involved with a variety of co-curricular activities, and engage in community service.

The young women with whom we interacted asked excellent questions and were so interested in talking with us and finding out how we liked their school and what our schools were like.  Because students have to wear uniforms it was difficult to tell who the in and out groups were and with 4000 students in one school there must be a great number of cliques. Grouping patterns weren’t obvious to me during our 5 days there but human nature certainly says that they exist. I also wondered about the level of bullying and  harassment and didn’t have the opportunity to ask that question.

I really enjoyed the time I had to talk with students in class, observe their learning and co-curricular activities, examine their student work, and see their smiling faces first thing in the morning.  They are adolescent girls who want a good education so they can attend college, they care about global issues, have pride in their country, like Katy Perry and One Direction, and spend too much time at night on Facebook. These young women are one of India’s most vibrant and important resources.

The Walk to School

Today I decided to photograph the .25 mile walk from our hotel to Shri Shikshayatan School. We are right in the heart of Kolkata.Kolkata school locationThe map route looks rather vanilla.

Here is what it really looks like:

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This morning there was little traffic. Usually crossing the street is a life threatening experience as cars/rickshaws/motorcycles/trucks don’t ever stop unless the traffic light gets backed up. There are people heading to work, others begging on the streets, girls in their school uniforms walking to school, street vendors getting their day started among the blaring cacophony of honking horns, construction in nearby buildings, and people talking on their mobile phones. Entering the school gates brings some relative peace and the business of the streets is closed out.

Driving in Bangalore?


Have you ever wondered about driving in India?  As someone who is happy to drive just about anywhere, I would not be able to handle this. It is complete chaos, no rules, survival of the fittest driving on really horrendous roads.

Another way to look at it: Boston drivers and Boston road conditions look like disciplined German drivers on Germany’s very pristine and efficient road/highway system.

The pics really don’t do it justice. Yes, there are 3 people on that scooter and the women on the back is riding side-saddle as the driver weaves through traffic during morning rush hour. I’ve seen 4 people on a scooter with the mom tightly hanging on to her infant child!  Fortunately, we are being driven around in a nice bus with a crazy driver.

Driving 2 Driving 3

What’s on Indian TV?

June 8, 2015               Bangalore, India                               Lemon Tree Hotel

After 20+ hours of travel 15 fellow teachers and I finally arrived at the Lemon Tree Hotel at 4am. After some  much needed sleep, we regrouped for our opening presentation, had dinner, and then I headed back to my room at 9pm for bed.

There is a nice Samsung flatscreen tv in my room so I was really curious to find out what is on Indian television here in Bangalore and wondered how globalized Indian media is.  By Indian standards, Bangalore is a smaller city. By small, I mean slightly larger than New York City with a population approaching 10 million people. Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi are much larger.

Beginning at 9:30pm IST I started flipping through the channels.

News is big here. The English news channels included:


Times of India

Channel News Asia

New Delhi TV News



And at least 7 other non English news channels.

(There are also 3592 different newspapers published in 35 different languages)

Being a big CNN viewer at home, I was curious to see what CNN’s lead stories were:

Migrants in the Mediterranean

ISIS in Iraq

G7 Summit in Germany

Turkish Elections

FIFA Corruption Scandal

The big prison escape in Clinton, NY

Excessive Use of Police Force to Breakup a Teen Pool Party somewhere in Texas.

The presentation of the new stories was more “news” than entertainment with longer and more in-depth reporting that what we generally see in the U.S.  It was rather refreshing not to see continued coverage of Caitlyn Jenner or the Duggar scandal.

On I went with my channel surfing…

While movie channels with Bollywood films are big, there are Hollywood films being broadcasted in equal number including:

The Matrix Reloaded

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

GI Joe and GI Joe Retaliation


“Regular” TV channels included many Indian sit-coms and dramas but Grey’s Anatomy, The Mentalist, Law & Order, Scooby Doo cartoons, Doctor Who, India’s version of The Voice, and Britain’s Got Talent, were also available.

There wasn’t much in the sports department just Cricket and US Professional Wrestling. CNN sports update lead story was on LeBron James and the Cavs in the NBA finals, followed by the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer.

There is TLC in India. So far, I have not seen evidence of Honey Boo Boo, 19 Kids and Counting, Say Yes to the Dress, or My 600lb Life I wonder if the Indian audience has similar “reality” shows focusing on certain demographic groups that equally fascinate and disgust the viewing audience.

Discovery Channel, FX, MTV India, Comedy Network (where is the Daily Show??), Nickleodean, Fox Life, National Geographic, History Channel, and Animal Planet were all had multiple channels of programming.

What does this all mean?

Major media conglomerates have significant exposure in the world’s second most populous country even when many people out in more rural areas have no access to tv, newspapers, or electricity. Only half of Indians own televisions but it is the 3rd largest television market in the world with over 700 satellite tv channels (India Mirror). “The Indian Media & Entertainment Industry grew by US$12.9 billion in 2009 to US$14.4 billion in 2010, a growth of 11 per cent, according to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and research firm KPMG.(Wikipedia). Continued growth is predicted as infrastructure expands and programming continues to capture viewers in a very competitive market.  The question remains is what impact will “western” vs. “eastern” programming have on the further globalization of India?

Welcome to Global Roads

This website was designed as part of my participation in the Teachers for Global Classrooms program.

The focus of TGC is for teachers to study and implement broader ways of integrating global education in secondary classrooms. The program, courses, and travel is all funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board).

Global education is a vital part of any student’s preK-12 education program and this site provides resources, materials, and experiences to support teachers and students on their global journeys in and outside of the classroom.

Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier

We live in an increasingly globalized world and students need a variety of opportunities to develop and practice global competencies at all grade levels and in all content areas.  The more we learn, think, and understand how other people in other cultures in other parts of the world live and work the better equipped we will be in addressing conflict and controversy. According to The Asia Society’s Book, Educating for Global Competence, “Global competence is the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.”  If each person can add one drop in the bucket of an issue of global importance to him or her, the bucket will quickly fill, and change will happen.

This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State.