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SM Global Citizenship and Educate Lanka: Virtual GCI
SM Global Citizenship and Educate Lanka: Virtual GCI

From December 15 through December 18, St. Mark's participated in a virtual Global Citizenship Institute collaboration with the NGO Educate Lanka.

Two-hour morning sessions featured participants from around the world—students and faculty from the United States, Canada, Austria, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka—all on the same session. Included from St. Mark's were Dr. Laura Appell-Warren (director of Global Citizenship at St. Mark's), Elise Morgan (senior associate director of Admission and GCI faculty), Sierra Petties '20 (two-time GCI participant), and Bruce Wilson '54. Also on the call were Elizabeth McColloch from the Park School (former St. Mark's and GCI faculty member) and, from Indonesia, Annabelle LeJeunne (GCI assistant director in 2019 and GCI intern in 2016 and 2017).

Founded in 2007, Educate Lanka is a program providing support to Sri Lankan students, investing in economically disadvantaged children and youth by enhancing their access to education, mentoring, and employment opportunities. Educate Lanka is committed to creating positive changes in communities, utilizing long-term micro-scholarship funding and targeted guidance to help young leaders empower themselves to make their aspirations a reality.

"This second annual event marks another milestone of our strengthening collaboration, which inaugurated in 2015 with St. Mark's students' visit to Sri Lanka," said Educate Lanka's Manjula Dissanayake. "We're grateful for the subsequent opportunities of engagement and collaboration with St. Mark's—from playing a part in every Global Citizenship Institute since 2016 to replicating the GC Seminar in Sri Lanka last year." Dissanayake described this year's virtual GCI-Sri Lanka as "an immersive virtual engagement" and expressed his appreciation for St. Mark's "continued commitment of support toward the promotion of global citizenship and strengthening of relations between the students of St. Mark's and our students in Sri Lanka." This past week's session was, he said, "an impactful collaboration."

The St. Mark's Global Citizenship initiative has been working with Educate Lanka for several years. St. Markers first traveled to Sri Lanka in 2015, and in 2016 and 2017 St. Mark's facilitated a group of Sri Lankan Students to come to Southborough and participate in the St. Mark's-Salzburg Global Citizenship Institute (GCI). In 2017, St. Mark's alumnus and trustee Bruce Wilson '54, one of the founders of the GCI, met the director of Educate Lanka, Manjula Dissanayake at the GCI and encouraged him to attend the Salzburg Global Seminar.

In both 2018 and 2019, the Sri Lanka group was unable to get visas to come to the GCI in Southborough, so St. Mark's helped Educate Lanka recreate the GCI for the students in Sri Lanka. This year, the second annual Global Citizenship Seminar-Sri Lanka took place in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and several from St. Mark's and around the world were able to participate remotely via virtual connection through Google Meet.