Program: Using Global Languages to Advance Cultural Understanding
Matilda Raffa Cuomo & Dr. Lee Jones
is no doubt that the children of the 21st century are citizens
of a global society. Almost all aspects of their lives—the
economy, the environment they live in, the diverse array of
individuals and cultures they will encounter every day—are
shaped by the increased internationalization of their world.
Yet, unfortunately, increased interdependence and interaction
between nations and cultures has often led to tensions and
conflict. To help make the global society of the 21st century
one of peace and cooperation, rather than one of war and turmoil,
many educators believe that our children in school today must
develop a deep understanding and appreciation of the diverse
cultures of the world. With such understanding comes tolerance
1995, Mentoring USA began its BRAVE (Bias-Related Anti-Violence Education)
Initiative in New York City, established in response to an
increase in violence and hate crimes involving high school
students. BRAVE promotes better communication to raise awareness
of our global community, and conflict resolution. In 2001,
we renamed the initiative BRAVE Juliana, in memory of David
McCourt’s 4 year-old daughter, Juliana, who was tragically
lost with her mother, Ruth, on the United Airlines Flight on
September 11. Thanks to David’s generous contribution each
mentee receives books on ethnic heroes, and our mentors can
attend multi-cultural workshops. BRAVE Juliana strives to foster
tolerance rather than hostility in youth, ages 5-18, who are
part of the Mentoring USA program, by encouraging compassion,
understanding and respect for their own language and heritage
and the language and culture of others.
College Board recently took a bold step forward to advance
the understanding and appreciation of world languages and cultures
in secondary schools by launching an initiative to establish
new Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and examinations
in world languages and cultures. The College Board’s Advanced
Placement Program allows students to pursue college-level studies
while they are still in high school. Based on their performance
on AP Examinations, students can earn college credit, advanced
placement, or both.
Caperton, President of the College Board, in announcing the
new AP World Language and Culture initiative, said, “World
events make it ever more obvious that a broad knowledge and
understanding of other languages and cultures is essential
for our young people.” As a first step in launching this initiative,
last June the Trustees of the College Board approved in principle
a plan for four new AP courses and examinations in World Languages
and Cultures: Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. The
Trustees also agreed to evaluate support for potential new
AP offerings in other fields of history and ethnic or cultural
studies, such as African-American History, Latino Studies,
and Asian Studies, and in other world languages, including
Arabic. The AP Program currently features language courses
in Spanish, French, and German.
first college-level AP Italian courses will be offered in U.S.
high schools in the fall of 2005, followed by the first exam
in May of 2006. Schools that are interested in the AP Italian
course and exam, as well as professional development opportunities,
should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org including
name, school affiliation, mailing address, and e-mail address.
September, President Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, joined Gaston
Caperton of the College Board to announce the new world language
initiative, especially the first Advanced Placement Program
for the Italian Language, at the Italian Consulate in New York.
The hard work, enthusiasm, broad-based commitment, and support
of Minister Mirko Tremaglia of the Italian government, together
with the three national Italian American organizations are
indicative of the effort that will be required to make the
College Board’s World Language and Culture initiative a successful
endeavor to prepare America’s students for their roles in an
increasingly global society.#
Raffa Cuomo is the former First Lady of the City of New York.
She is Founder and Chair, Mentoring USA and Chair, National
Committee for Advanced Placement Italian Language Course & Examination.
Dr. Lee Jones is Vice President of The College Board.
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