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This report is an exploration of existing strengths and areas for improvement that exist within the organizations domestic service learning program for K-12th graders, specifically around intercultural competency. Recommendations for further integration of intercultural learning will be made within two categories enhancement of existing programming and integration of existing opportunities. Current Situation The current domestic service learning program, We Act, is a year-long program designed to educate and engage K-12 students on various local and global justice issues, and provide students with simple, guided ways to take action. While many of the resources focus on Adopt-A-Village, Free The Childrens international development model, the program itself is cause agnostic, which means students are provided resources while supporting any cause or organization of their choice. The We Act program consists of components that fall under two categories, core and enhanced. Core components are offered to all schools and youth free of cost. Enhanced components are still offered free of cost, but are offered only to a select audience, and are dependent on sponsors and partnerships. Core components include: Service campaigns addressing local and global issues. The first campaign of the year, We Scare Hunger, encourages students trick-or-treat on Halloween to collect canned food for local food banks. We Create Change is another fall campaign that gives youth action steps and tools to run coin drives to collect funds to support the issue of their choice. We Are Love is the Valentines campaign where students can sell Valentines buttons representing different the different pillars of Adopt A Village (Education, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Alternative Income and Livelihood, and Clean Water and Sanitation). Finally, We Are Silent, is a day where students take a vow of silence to raise awareness around childs right issues. Students may also collect pledges for each hour they are silent to give to the cause of their choice. Educational resources, including lesson plans and modules, primarily focus on Adopt A Villages five pillars, domestic issues including hunger and poverty, and child rights issues. These lesson plans are developed for both primary and secondary students, and educators are provided with digital and physical tools, like black line masters and action kits, to support the lesson plan implementation. Action kits. When first registered for We Act, groups receive an action kit, including how-to guides, educator guides, sample lesson plans, flyers, and sample items (including We Are Love buttons and We Create Change collection containers based on the theme of the year). Online resources, including and, which hold a database of educational videos, workbooks, and lesson plans for students and teachers to use.

Social media, including the online platform We365, which gives youth the opportunity to share their passions with other We Act youth, take on new challenges, and even log their service hours. Support staff. Full time educational and youth programming coordinators work to support teachers and youth in action-planning, project implementation, and resource acquisition. Enhanced components include: Outreach speeches by FTC motivational youth speakers In-school action planning workshops Leadership camps Youth mentorship summits Educator Professional Development sessions We Day, the signature, stadium-sized, youth empowerment event. We Act is very successful is engaging students in both the campaigns and independent service projects. In 2012, 68,801 student leaders were able to engage over 517,003 in service initiatives, raising $11 million dollars for local and global causes, volunteering 4.5 million hours of service, holding 1.2 million hours of silence, and collecting 875,000 lbs of food (We Act Impact). According to Mission Measurement, an outside consultant that runs M&E for the organization, teachers and students alike feel highly engaged and supported by the We Act program. Surveys of educators and student alumni demonstrate that: 91% of educators say their students feel more strongly that their actions have local and global consequences. 90% of educators reported that their students now see themselves as part of a broader community. 87% of educators say their students have demonstrated increased confidence in leading social change. 80% volunteered for more than 150 hours the previous year, on average. 79% of participants of voting age voted in the most recent national election double the rate of their peers. 75% of alumni became more comfortable with their personal identity. 73% of alumni agreed that their experience with Free The Children was transformational. (We Act Impact)

Findings Although We Act is extremely successful in service learning, the presentation of the intercultural communities with which Free The Children works often becomes problematic, due to limited context and simplistic portrayals. While issues these communities face are thoroughly explored in lesson plans, the historical, cultural,

socioeconomic, and political context of the communities themselves are little investigated. Often times, this leads students to erroneously believe that there is simply a lack of knowledge or capability that exists in the community, or a fundamental flaw, that only developed nations (and individuals) can help address. Even if this belief doesnt develop, students are given a simplistic view of the issues, and are led to believe that many of these problems can be resolved simply by providing funds. Although there is content within Free The Children programming that discusses the need for locallysourced development and sustainability, this often appears lost with the students. Overall, the programming appears to propagate an us helping them mentality, while images of international communities almost solely in traditional garb promote an other identification for the communities students hope to serve through their projects. While certainly, exposure to traditional facets of culture can be enlightening, many professionals assumed that any contact across cultures was useful contact and would reduce stereotypes and prejudice, allowing intercultural competence to synergistically evolve recent investigations have illuminated more complicated and useful perspectives on intercultural contact and how best to facilitate the development of skills (Deardorff, 132). It is necessary to further develop the intercultural learning resources in the program so all students are able to have a holistic view of both the communities and the issues they face, and develop deeper understanding of global issues, in order to learn how to better address them in the future. The existing program, while providing resources to explore the issues each campaign addresses, is not comprehensive or built out enough to avoid reinforcing potentially negative stereotypes of individuals and communities in developing countries. Recommendations Enhancement of existing programming Lesson Plans While there are a number of lesson plans dedicated to understanding the issues Free The Childrens international development model addresses, there are limited resources that aid the students in exploring the culture of the communities they are supporting. Guided research projects and lesson plans focusing on the culture and history of the communities and countries would provide important context and understanding for the students, and would not require the organization to expand beyond their existing programming. Additional prompts in existing lesson plans could also be provided to serve the same purpose, so new lesson plans would not necessarily need to be created. Speaker Opportunities While there is an existing speaker opportunity that focuses on exploring another culture, with Wilson and Jackson, the Masaai Warriors from Kenya, there is certainly opportunity to introduce other speakers in the coming years from the different communities Free The

Children has partnered with internationally. Having more expansive opportunities for students to learn not only about other cultures and countries, but the Free The Children program, directly from international participants, would be an extremely educational and meaningful experience for students. Integration of existing opportunities Intercultural Classroom Projects Organizations, such as iEARN, offer opportunities for schools across the world to connect virtually and work on projects together focused primarily on sharing culture and history of each classroom. Free The Children and iEARN already share a programmatic partner, Adobe Youth Voices, and would easily be able to utilize both organizations resources to benefit students. With Free The Childrens technological sponsors, the organization should be able to provide the necessary technology to connect international schools with schools utilizing domestic programming. Not only would this be a impactful intercultural learning opportunity, and build a meaningful relationship between fundraising and funded schools, but it could also help prepare those students planning on taking volunteer trips to the community, and provide context and depth to the fundraising schools efforts. Conclusion Free The Children has the reach and resources to be not only a leading educational partner in service learning, but intercultural learning as well. With slight accommodations in programming or cultivation of partnerships, Free The Children could easily take advantage of this opportunity.

Works Cited Deardorff, Darla K. "Part 1: Cultivating Intercultural Competence." The Sage Handbook of Intercultural Competence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009. N. pag. Print. "We Act Impact." Free The Children We Act Impact Comments. Free The Children, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.