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Blog: How do global perspectives shape the future? A reflection on the 2017 HONORS: Gala
          How do global perspectives shape the future? How do international conversations inspire youth? How do simple ideas ignite global movements? How do visions of international diplomacy and education become real?

Perhaps because a Latin American political leader creates pathways towards peace in the region; perhaps because an iconic trailblazer in anthropology leaves her ecological laboratory to build awareness of the need for conservation; or because a group of Catholic women weave global perspective into their foundation of a higher education curriculum. Perhaps because public media informs citizens from all walks of life; or because a company knows no boundaries for innovation or magnitude in education technology. Or, perhaps, because each knew their individual actions may not be enough to create the united and educated global community our world needs.

As the World Affairs Council - Washington, DC community came together Wednesday, March 29 to recognize their 2017 HONORS: Gala Honorees -- who are leaders in international affairs, global education and global communications -- we were reminded that  individual action inspires collective change, but also that those actions take time to mature and create change.

For over 35 years, WAC-DC has recognized individuals at it’s annual Gala who have exemplified leadership in the global community. The commonality of our Honorees reflects the vision of WAC-DC to foster a space for global curriculums to inform students, educators and the general public within the DC-metro area and around the world. Each of our Honorees were carefully chosen to reflect the values and goals that are inherent in those who pursue global change through community empowerment, and who preserve peace through intellect.

As Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE accepted the Global Ambassador Award on behalf of the Jane Goodall Institute which she founded in 1977, she reflected upon the role her mother played in shaping her curiosity of the natural world. “A different kind of mother might have crushed that early scientific curiosity,” but luckily when hearing of Jane’s dream to “go to Africa, live with the animals and write books about them,” Jane mother simply told her: ‘If you really want this thing, you’re going to have to work really hard and take advantage of opportunity and never give up.’”

Dr. Matthew Shank, President of Marymount University discussed the role of The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary in shaping the University’s higher education curriculum where, “Global education is part of the Marymount DNA.” The University was awarded the Educator of the Year Award in recognition of its continued appreciation of cultural inclusion and global education in its collegiate curriculum.

For over 50 years, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has disseminated public media to citizens across America. The work of CPB has included a variety of iconic radio and television programming ‘that truly does educate, inspire, inform and entertain.” The return on that investment is an educated public, shared Patricia Harrison, President & CEO of CPB, as she accepted the Global Communications Award.

Blackboard Inc. has been a leader in education technology for 20 years. It has partnered with nations, communities and institutions that have paved the way for student success, which is “a universal objective,” Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, President & CEO, stated during his remarks while accepting the Global Education Award on behalf of the company’s employees worldwide.

The Republic of Columbia received the Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award, which was accepted by the Colombian Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Juan Carlos Pinzón. In his remarks he discussed the long struggle for peace in his nation, giving thanks to the men and women who served and fought for the transformation that the country so desperately needed. “Taking into account what is going on in the world - and the evolution of technology and innovation - we must prepare current and future generations of students for success in the global economy. This is one of the subjects I really admire about the [World Affairs] Council. What you do with global education is key,” stated the Ambassdor.

The stories shared by the recipients are ones that began a long time ago. They were built after years of hard work and relentless faith in the power of education and community empowerment. At WAC-DC we reflect on this every day. We aspire to create young leaders through global education because we believe that empowering youth can instill a long-lasting desire of global competency within future generations.

The young daughter of a WAC-DC board member accompanied her father to the 2017 Gala. Her eyes lit up when Dr. Goodall signed her book during the VIP reception, before the main program began. This moment occurred in the Art Gallery at the Ritz, with no more than a few people looking on, but it was a testament to the curiosity of a child, and to young fascination with those who work beyond their immediate goals, countries and networks. It was a moment that reflects our vision to empower young people to feed their curiosity of the world and all the cultures within it.

There are many who could have taken the podium during our 2017 HONORS: Global Education Gala. There are many who are leaders in global education, international affairs and global communications, but we were humbled to have had the 2017 Honorees - Marymount University, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Blackboard Inc., The Republic of Colombia and the Jane Goodall Institute - join us for yet another remarkable gala.

WAC-DC is grateful to have the opportunity to bring individuals together who believe in the power of knowledge, the power of connectivity, the power of global perspective and the power of community in making our world a better, more responsible place. We are encouraged to continue our work of inspiring education that reaches beyond any one classroom, act or generation.


By: Olivia Salsbery, 2017 Global Communications Intern and Sophie Owens, 2017 Global Education Intern