Tag Archives: stories

Global Youth

August 18th, 2017


Americans get a bad rap for speaking only English, of making no effort to learn the languages of other cultures. For the most part, this is true. Unlike Europe, where an hour drive might find you in a completely foreign land, the furthest the average American will make it as far as edge of the state. But that’s not all of us.

In Southern California, from where I hail, the proximity to Mexico makes it not only worth it to speak at least some basic Spanish, it’s almost compulsory. And we are not alone. Foreign languages are being taught at younger and younger ages and it bodes well for the future of our region and the country in whole. Another language connects one more deeply to a culture, the nature of our world as one people, and most importantly, makes you sound like a fancy pants.

So, when I see a fluently bilingual toddler I am not only impressed but often more jealous than is reasonable for an adult toward a 5-year old.

Of course, there are the rare drawbacks:

In line at the ATM one day there was a young dad and his little girl, maybe all of four years old.

The father stands with his daughter, entering in his PIN:


“Nueve!” the girl yells confidently.

In a quiet voice he replies, “That’s very good sweetie but shhh please”

He presses another button.


“Yes Clara that’s right but please we have to be quiet right now.”

He focuses on the screen tries to hide the buttons with his hand, keeps an eye on his daughter all at once.




Clara erupts into giggles.

“Clara please”

The father, perhaps regretting just a bit his daughter linguistic skills, tries to turn her away, making a modestly curious little girl an obsessed investigator.

In what must have felt like a moment of glorious looney tune ingenuity Clara’s father points off to the distance,

“Clara look it’s a mariposa!”

Beep. The last button is entered.

“A butterfly? Where!?”

“Oh, I guess it flew away, let’s go li’l one.”

Better luck next time Clara. Like the rest of you baby geniuses, you give me hope for the future, a good laugh and a healthy dose of envy.


Alex Brenner – When he is not helping international students as ACEI’s Communications Officer, Alex puts his writing chops to work as a script doctor for Hollywood screenwriters and guest blogs for ACEI-Global. Alex has a BA in English from UCLA and has been fortunate to have travelled to many corners of the world as a child and an adult.

For further information on the international credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.


Filed under Creativity, Education, Human Interest, Language

Exchanging Stories: Learning from Each Others Lived Experiences

by Abby Wills, MA
Shanti Generation

Every person has a story.

In our stories live countless lessons and possibilities for learning. Stories are living bridges between our past and future; our ancestors and our descendants.

The act of telling our stories opens the way for us to shape them. As we see our own experiences reflected through the listening eyes and ears of others, we gain new perspectives. Likewise, when we listen to another person share their story, we become mirrors reflecting back to them an understanding, a validation, or perhaps another angle, or question. During the exchange of stories, both teller and listener are affected.

The exchange of personal stories has been utilized as a tool for learning throughout history, and has a current presence in diverse learning environments.

I came to value story sharing during my studies at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena where I was required to write stories from my early years and other stages of my own life cycle. Rather than sending me to research the works of theorists right away, my professors first asked me to reflect on my life experience. This allowed me to locate myself in the theoretical information I would subsequently engage with.

The Human Development curriculum at Pacific Oaks introduced me to educators masterful in utilizing students’ stories as the “stuff of learning.”

“Education is not a preparation for life itself. Education is life itself.” John Dewey

The oft-quoted words of Dewey point to the essence of storytelling in education. Our stories are our lives. Our lives themselves contain the context through which we will learn best. In Dewey’s style of democratic education, the story is written in real time and is a shared experience of discovery. In this sense, each students experience enters the learning environment as vital content.

Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, utilized peoples lived experiences to help them learn to read, thereby empowering them with the tools to vote. Inviting someone to share their story provokes agency in that person. Bringing students personal stories alive in the classroom means that we make a space for learners to enter into the learning as subjects.

As our stories are told and heard, they come alive. In telling our stories, we gain a new view of our lives. Listening to other peoples stories reveals just how interconnected our paths really are. The context of my hardships may be very different from yours, yet we have all overcome many obstacles to be able to share our stories today.

Pacific Oaks College



Filed under Uncategorized