West indian culture

Students work together despite cultural differences: Daniel Emmerson on Global Ambassadors


The Global Ambassadors project is part of Felsted School’s focus on global citizenship education

Modern High School for Girls students joined the project from Kolkata

Daniel Emmerson, the principal of Felsted School, a boarding school in North Essex, UK, was in Kolkata to meet with students from the Modern High School for Girls who have joined the UK school’s Global Ambassadors project.

Edugraph caught up with Emmerson as he was walking around town with the students of Modern High School. Excerpts from the conversation:

Tell us about Felsted School and the Global Ambassadors project.

Felsted is a 457-year-old independent coeducational boarding school. Although this is a very old school, we are progressive in our thinking in terms of guidance and educational opportunities for young people.

Right now we have about 1,100 students aged 4 to 18, and 20% of them are international students. We belong to different international organizations in around 40 countries. Over the past five years, we have worked with Think Education in Mumbai to expand some of our global initiatives.

We have a summer program from July to August for anyone looking to join other countries to find out what it’s like to study at a UK boarding school. When the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, we had to cancel our summer school program and decided to launch online initiatives instead so students around the world could enroll easily. The emphasis is on global study with an emphasis on migration theory, international relations, political science, human rights protection, environmental protection and more. Students collaborate and work together in different subjects despite cultural differences. The students actually created this amazing online community, and students like those at Modern High School wanted to do more than just attend class. So we introduced the Global Ambassadors.

What other countries are involved with Felsted?

We have an extensive network of countries with which we work. Since September of this year, I have visited our partners in Serbia, Italy, Germany, France, Lithuania, Argentina, Poland, Ukraine and others. We have built a vast network from America to East Asia. Next year we are planning trips to Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. It really is a large network.

How are Global Ambassadors selected? What projects are the Global Ambassadors working on?

Initially, we were just asking around and anyone who wanted to be a global ambassador could become one. Anyone with enthusiasm could work as an ambassador. Over time, many students were unable to continue. Now, ambassadors have specific roles and direction. They are selected for roles through an interview system created by the students themselves. Accordingly, who should do what is decided. It is now a student-run program.

The idea is to keep the conversation going on the topics we discuss in our classes. So, with something like the protection of human rights, we might be tackling a specific issue or a global matter that needs our attention. Our Ambassadors review initiatives such as creating social media content to raise awareness and they also encourage other students to participate in our online programs. There are completely free online symposia and that’s probably why over 2,000 students have joined us in the past two years.

From filmmaker to global educator, tell us how it went.

I studied film production for my bachelor’s degree and wanted to start a production company. This was my main goal after I graduated and I managed to do it. I did a few films too, and those films were all in the education sector. I started working for projects in Sri Lanka, Romania, China, Morocco, USA, Brazil and each of those projects was about education and how people learn. I got involved a lot in independent education in particular. I ended up teaching film production and graduated in teaching English. I was drawn to the education sector. After working at Millfield School, UK for five years, I accepted admission to complete my first Masters in International Relations. With Felsted, my global journey started in March 2014. Everything I do is collaborative teamwork.

Learning can be defined in different ways. Students who did not have proper access to online courses suffered massive learning loss, especially children who lacked the mental capacity to sit in front of a Zoom call.

-Daniel Emmerson, Head of Felsted School, UK

What is your purpose of coming to India?

My trip to India is organized by Ishana Malkani and her husband Aditya Malkani from Think Education. I work with them to develop partnerships in Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. We are also working on projects in Jammu and Kashmir. We are trying to make the most of our partnerships after the pandemic. The partnership with Modern High School is particularly special because of the student engagement. Today we are taking a virtual tour of Kolkata. We present to the world the favorite neighborhoods of the city girls. The aim is to show other students around the world what Kolkata is like. We show a bit of history, religion and food.

Is this your first time in Calcutta?

No, this is my second time in Kolkata and I don’t know how many times in India. I really enjoy being here. Last time I tried Bengali candies and snacks. This is the first time I have had a Bengali lunch in a Bengali restaurant (6 Ballygunge Place). I liked everything, especially the luchi and mishti doi.

What do you plan for next?

Then we have a symposium in December. The students are busy preparing for it. We have had meetings. It is too early to say more but it will address very important subjects concerning humanity. The students here work very hard. Especially those girls who take me away. I am impressed with them.

Last updated on 02 Dec. 2021

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