Global Speaker Series

Bring the world into your classroom

Each year our best teachers—with years of international education experience—speak in classrooms  across the United States to share their perspectives and insights with students ready to engage with critical and compelling global questions. We will start booking our 2022-23 virtual global speaker series that includes a range of talks focusing on topics such as climate change, advocacy through story, and learning service on October 1st.

Global Connection

Our Speaker Series is committed to cross-cultural education. We view it as a tool for breaking down barriers, enhancing understanding between communities across the world, and bringing what we’ve learned abroad back home to share.

Engaging Facilitation

We invite you to look at some of the conversations our staff are facilitating. Whether you are a teacher of Language Studies, Geography, Science, History, Social Studies, Religion, or Art, we hope to have a topic of interest to you.

Critical Issues

Speakers cover a range of compelling global topics that are designed to push students to challenge their assumptions through real-world insights.

Request a Global Speaker


Opportunities for Your Classroom

  • Free Talks

    Select one of our free 60-min global talks (free talks are listed below) that are funded by Dragons and offer your students the opportunity to engage with critical global conversations.

  • Mini Modules

    Fully customize online programming to fit your classroom needs. Email [email protected] for more information. Each session is accompanied by a curated reading or activity. More about Mini Modules.

  • Virtual Experiences

    Dragons also offers week-long intensives for student groups seeking to delve deeper into one of our program areas. Virtual experiences offer 20 hours of synchronous learning over a 6-day period and can be co-authored with teachers to fit your needs. More about Virtual Experiences.


2022-23 GLOBAL SPEAKER TALKS

 

Commodity, Community or Sacred: A Multicultural Perspective on Fresh Water
Synopsis: The most abundant component of the earth, inherently valuable and fundamental to any ecosystem: water. One of the most pressing social issues of our time, it is a multidimensional resource, sometimes perceived as an economic good, sometimes as a common good and for some communities as a living being or a sacred spirit. This talk is a journey through different contexts and cultures, perceptions and possibilities that coexist around fresh water. 
Speaker: Izta Martinez de Eulate, M.A. Water Science and Integrated Management, Universidad de Barcelona; B.A. Environmental Engineer; Universidad CentroAmericana (UCA) Managua, Nicaragua. 
***Available in Spanish

A Proper Woman: Challenging Social Norms to Pursue Your Dreams
Synopsis: My name is Thavry and I have been born and raised in a male dominated world. Cambodian people hold strongly to traditional cultural norms and pass them along from one generation to the next, especially in the remote village I grew up in. Not all of the norms are bad, but some are simply unfair to women. I will compare how social norms treated women within 3 generations in my own family, and what happens if one tries to break free? Why can’t women dream big? Why does getting education seem so impossible? Why can’t they travel far? Why can’t they just be themselves and do what they want? Why does it always feel like just being a woman is a curse? 
Speaker: Thavry Thon, B.A. Information Management, University of Hradec Kralove,Czech Republic

Colonization, Globalization, and African Wax Fabric
Synopsis: Many of us would associate certain bold colored and printed fabrics with the African continent, though their history crosses continents. It’s a fascinating story that spans continents, from Indonesia to Holland and across Africa. We examine the current status of the fabrics – Where are they produced? Who wears them? Who makes money off of them? In answering these questions and exploring the complex stories behind this singular object, we see how interconnected our world really is and understand the ways in which colonial legacies continue to make their mark today.
Speaker: Christy Sommers, M.A. International Education and Development, University of Sussex; B.A. Political Science and International Studies, Northwestern University; Fulbright Fellow: Bangladesh, 2010-2011, Italy 2022-2023.

How to Unsettle Yourself: Practicing Solidarity with Indigenous Communities
Synopsis: How do you reckon with the ongoing reality of settler-colonialism and racism–from your own life, to your community and the place you live? Charis will share stories about being a White settler involved in work to support Indigenous sovereignty. Her stories are grounded in her own family’s immigration and presence on this continent over the last 400 years. She will share her own personal journey of reckoning, and how  her collaboration with Nuumu, Hupa, and Shoshone folks has shaped her understanding of what healing from settler colonialism and racism must look like. From what it means to re-work a settler relationship to the places we live, to practicing deep relational solidarity with Indigenous friends and colleagues, to dealing with the fact that not all who settled here did so by choice–Charis brings a personal, intimate description of her bumpy pathway to trying to be in better relation with the watersheds and people to whom she owes her life.
Speaker: Dr. Charis Boke, B.A. English, Mills College; M.A. Social Sciences, University of Chicago; Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, Cornell University

Language, Power and Pride: Three Indian Stories
Synopsis: India, the world’s largest democracy, is also home to hundreds of languages, twenty-two of which are officially used for governing. How does such a diverse country function and communicate? And how can understanding modern India provide insight into dealing with conflict in a multicultural democracy? Rebecca will draw on her more than a decade of experience living, studying and working in India to tell the stories of how three major linguistic conflicts have shaped the country. This talk will explore religious tensions, the rise of ethnic political parties and the marginalization of indigenous communities, all through the lens of the languages involved.
Speaker: Rebecca Winslow, B.A. South Asia Studies, Wellesley College

The Social Determinants of Health in our Local and Global Communities
Synopsis: In the era of COVID-19, Global Health has never been more top of mind. While our headlines are burdened with our current pandemic, the origins of why certain communities are more susceptible to poorer health outcomes and the political, cultural, environmental and religious factors are often left out of the conversation. This talk dives into the basics of the “why” behind global and community health using case studies, tangible examples and reframes the way we think about our health and the health of the communities we visit and learn.
Speaker: Beth Eanelli, M.Sc.-GH Duke University, Global Health & International Development Policy; B.A. Bucknell University, Psychology & Creative Writing

Creating Purpose in a Changing World
Synopsis: Adolescence is a tremendous period of neuroplasticity and transformation. As the brain reaches its highest malleability, youth have an opportunity to operate out of their greatest potential if given the correct tools and direction. This talk looks at how to step into our purpose and design a life shaped by its trajectory. What is personally meaningful and what is most central to our identity? What motivates us to be of consequence in the world? Purpose paths are nonlinear and unique, and in this time together we will uncover how to develop goals, motivation and action in line with our values. Purpose is associated with psychological well-being, school engagement and belonging – cultivating hope for a brighter future in our changing world.
Speaker: Rebecca Frances Burns, B.A. Globalization and Education, NYU; M.A. Adolescent Psychology (in progress); PhD in Sustainability Education (candidate), Prescott College

Climate Justice in Cambodia
Synopsis: Cambodia is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change. As its youthful population grows, Cambodia is bearing the consequences of industrialized nations historical emissions and experiencing its own challenges of deforestation and ecosystem loss. Earth rights defenders stand between the world’s most powerful corporations and the world’s most valuable natural resources. But these courageous individuals are threatened. In this lesson, Brendon will draw on his experience training human rights and environmental activists throughout Asia to discuss primary threats to the environment and indigenous communities, issues related to climate justice, and solutions to protect earth rights defenders and the communities that they serve.
Speaker: Brendon Hahns Thomas, M.A. Global Human Development, Georgetown University; B.A. International Relations and Economics, Michigan State University

Mindful Living: The Yogic Way
Synopsis: How can we use yoga to achieve a complete state of relaxation and bliss? Though the benefits of yoga are well-known, the fundamental purpose of yoga is often overlooked by many modern practitioners. Beyond merely bending the body, the science of yoga provides the ultimate tool for enhancing human capabilities and functioning at the highest peak of body and mind. When we say “yoga,” for most people it probably means twisting the body into impossible postures. That’s not what yoga is all about. Asanas are a very preparatory step, but unfortunately they are being propagated as the whole of yoga. Yoga means to be in perfect tune with your body, mind and spirit such that existence is in absolute harmony. 
Speaker: Hemant Kumar, M.Sc. & B.Sc. in Yoga (Theory & Practice) from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University

The White Saviour Complex: Does Voluntourism Do More Harm than Good?
Synopsis: Voluntourism is a booming and growing industry. Pre-pandemic, it was estimated at $2.6 billion globally and with at least 10 million travelers, and marketed as an accessible way to learn about and contribute to the world. It is such a popular activity for young people that it is almost becoming a rite of passage. However the practice has come under increased criticism for perpetuating neo-colonial ideas and “white saviorism,” as well as being rife with corrupt practices that cause harm to both the community and the students themselves. This workshop offers a new concept “learning service” as a way to think through and resolve some of these ethical tensions, by putting learning at the heart of the service we offer.
Speaker: Claire Bennett, M.A. History, University of Cambridge. Current field instructor in Senegal, Nepal, and Cambodia.

Historic Memory: Antidotes for a Struggling Planet
Synopsis: From severe climate crises, to global pandemics and widespread unrest, we are living in unprecedented and troubled times. Yet not all is doomed. The planet’s evolutionary past has gifted us a cultural heritage full of valuable lessons and viable alternatives to address some of the most pressing issues affecting the health of the planet and everything in it. This talk is an invitation to take a deep dive into personal and collective histories to uncover useful antidotes to help a struggling planet.
Speaker: Este Orantes Migoya, MA Anthropology, University of Toronto (in progress), honours B.A. in Anthropology & Latin American Studies, University of Toronto 
***Available in French

Truth & Existence: Buddhism in Practice
Synopsis: It’s possible to use the leisure time we have had during the pandemic as a way to understand the truth of our existence through Theravada Buddhist doctrines. Somsanid will guide students thorough what he has learned as a lay Buddhist monk and his practice in South East Asia.  The talk will consist of the Dharma (the Teaching of Nature) and Som will share some meditation theory/techniques to help participants detach their minds from clinging on Dhukha (Suffering).
Speaker: Somsanid Inthongdsai, M.A. Graduate Degree. Saimouane Economy College, Khammouane, Laos: English language study.

Climate Change’s Cultural Side
Synopsis: Even with 100% renewable electricity and a complete shift to electric cars, the United States would still produce more greenhouse gases per capita than China or any Western European country. The average U.S. resident emits double the average German. Throughout human history, sustainable practices have been primarily cultural, not technological. Out of necessity, communities all over the world develop life ways that match the landscapes and ecosystems they are a part of. This talk is a tour of cultures in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Amazon, and the Mekong River Basin asking what the modern Western world might learn about solving environmental problems from communities that live more in touch with the natural world.
Speaker: Jeff Wagner, B.A. Environmental Studies, Western American Studies, and Geography – University of Colorado

Traditional Toward Contemporary: From Guqin to China-Style Pop Music Phenomenon
Synopsis: Guqin, is the oldest authentic Chinese musical instrument. Pei’s talk will introduce students to the unique and subtle sounds of the Guqin that have influenced all aspects of China culture. We will trace the use of the Guqin from the story of Confucius learning the instrument to 1977 when Nasa used its sounds as a gift to the galaxy in the Voyager spacecraft mission. Pei will explore how music is an amazing medium for understanding China – from traditional to contemporary life and values.
Speaker: Pei Yuen, B.Des. in Communications Design from Shih Chien University, Taiwan

Modern Perspectives from an Ancient City: Heritage of the Past, Ambitions of the Future
Synopsis: How do cities live and organize themselves over time? This talk will highlight the challenges and opportunities of urban sustainability while encouraging students to draw parallel conversations in their own home town/cities. The concepts will draw on public spaces, belonging, local economy, beliefs and rituals, and evaluate grassroots engagement through city councils and governments. In this talk, Jason will draw experiences from his hometown Patan – an ancient Newar city in Nepal – to evaluate similar concerns of students’ home-cities.The focus topics can shift to include: urban transportation, green spaces, citizen activism, waste management, and youth participation.
Speaker: Jason Shah, BA, International Studies – Diplomacy and International Organizations.

Drinking Water: Stories from Mining Community of the Bolivian Andes.
Synopsis: Water is a sacred commodity that many people take for granted since it’s easy to turn on the tap instead of walking many miles to get potable water. In Bolivia, where the National Constitution says, “La Tierra es del quien la trabaja” (The land is for the one that works in it), this mantra does not apply to many of its mining communities. For centuries, Bolivian miners, who are most often Andean indigenous people, have suffered greatly from their work in the mining industry. This workshop offers a critical look at mining and its effects on people and the environment. Alan will examine issues that miners face just to survive and illustrate many of the challenges of the industry through access to clean, potable water. 
Speaker: Alan Condori Flores, B.A. Tourism, Culture, and Languages; San Francisco Xavier of Chuquisaca
Dates: January – May 2023
***Available in Spanish

Advocating Through Story
Synopsis: Stories can change the course of history. We all have them and are often touched and influenced by the tales of others. From advocacy to entertainment, stories have the power to influence, amuse and evoke an emotional response within the listener. This workshop looks at the social and economic impact of selection of stories, explores ways to structure a story for engagement and impact, and gives participants the opportunity for practice. Drawing on the concepts of global citizenship and leadership, we will reflect on the impact individuals wish to have on the planet and the role story can play in advocating for this.
Speaker: Steve Roberts, BSocSci (Economics & Film), MA (Education and International Development), MA (Digital Technologies, Communication and Education)

The Forces Behind Migration from Central America
Synopsis: Every month, thousands of people from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador embark on a perilous journey to reach the United States. Rich will draw on five years of work as a reporter based in Central America to explore why people come to the US, the dangers they face along the way, and the social, economic, and historical factors that have led to recent waves of migration. He will share original interviews with community leaders, academics, and participants in the October 2018 migrant caravan.
Speaker: Richard Brown. Rich worked for five years in Guatemala as a multimedia reporter, editor, and translator. Now in Washington, D.C., he translates for Amnesty International and the DC Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. He also leads Dragons summer programs to introduce students to inspiring Guatemalan communities.
***Available in Spanish

The Forbidden Fire and the Role of Community-Based Fire Management in the Peruvian Andes

Synopsis: The need for agricultural expansion has increased fire use throughout the tropics, aggravating local people’s vulnerability to the changing climate. Fire management has been historically addressed from a top-down conservationist approach, when use of agricultural fires should also be integrated into discussions of rural development. This shift would emphasize strengthening local and traditional institutions for adequate fire prevention and control and provide a better fit to the local context of the actors implementing them. In this talk, Vanessa will share her doctoral research in the Tropical Andes, where almost nothing is known regarding the local institutions for fire management and how these rules are adapted to fit changing socio environmental contexts.
Speaker: Vanessa Luna, PhD in Latin American Studies, University of Florida (in progress), B.A. in Biology, Agraria La Monina University, Peru
***Available in Spanish

The Marriage Between Two Communist Countries: China and Cuba.
Synopsis: Tindy, a Chinese woman married to a Cuban man, will share her personal stories and accounts of China and Cuba. China is known for its 5,000 year history, traditional medicine, and Confucious culture — where the people are considered hard-working and serious. Cuba is famous for its paradise-like beaches, their own traditional medicine, and  salsa dancing. The people are passionate, and they call everyone on the streets mi amor. China has been a Communist Party for 72 years and Cuba for 56 — it’s easy to make conclusions about those two in comparison to politics and economy, but Tindy is more excited to talk about the cultural influence, lifestyle, beliefs, as well as differences and similarities in day-to-day life between the two.
Speaker: Tindy Hoating, B.A. in Broadcasting and Hosting from Guangdong Ocean University
***Available in Mandarin 


Next Steps

Please reach out to us with questions regarding our specific speakers or to customize some programming that fits your classroom needs. Contact [email protected] for more information. Space is limited and we recommend booking soon.


Request a Global Speaker
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