NC in the World
100 People: A World Portrait

There were several interesting resources on the NC in the World website that could be used in the English/language arts classroom either as part of a stand alone project or tied to a theme or text. Most of these resources could be used across the curriculum and could be adapted for use by any grade level. I had a difficult time narrowing down my selection, but I chose to explain in detail the resource 100 People: A World Portrait. This web site was created around the idea that if we shrink the world down to 100 people, then we would have a better grasp of what the world looks like. The authors of the web site want to create a visual representation of the world through pictures, images, art and textual descriptions of the different cultures and nationalities to help students better understand the world in which they live. The statistics used to shrink the world to 100 people offer a framework for understanding community as well as global issues.

The World Portrait project asks students to identify individuals in their community whom they admire, and then interview them and create a visual portrait. The portrait can be a photograph or artistic representation. The portraits and descriptions are then exhibited in the local community as well as on the web site. According to the site, “Through this process of statistically and visually bridging the local with the global, students develop an equalizing and expansive framework for seeing the people they share the planet's resources with and for activating their role as global citizens.” Beginning with this project, teachers can then expand on lessons learned to examine the world through 10 Global Lenses: water, food, transportation, health, economy, education, energy, shelter, war and waste. The creators of 100 People plan to develop media and projects that can be used in classrooms around the world to open dialogue about critical issues that affect everyone.

The 100 People project supports the suggestion in Merryfield’s article that in order to learn and understand other cultures, students must truly understand their own cultures and how their personal cultures may shape their opinions, biases and ideas about the world. Teachers and students have an opportunity to discuss how our personal culture shapes, forms and influences the traits we find admirable. Students can use these discussions to articulate the specific traits they are looking for to identify the subject of their portrait. Teachers can also use this web site to facilitate a better understanding of other cultures, an important aspect of global awareness mentioned in all three articles.

This web site could be used to enrich a variety of units in social studies, science, foreign language and English/language arts classes. I would use this web site in my high school English classes by beginning with the idea mentioned above and have students examine their personal culture through the lens of admiration. I would use the 100 People web site to show my students the traits that students from other countries find admirable before we develop a class list of traits that we find are common to us all. Then, students would be encouraged to use this list to help them formulate their own ideas about whom they admire and why. Students would have to create two portraits of their role model: a visual and a textual portrait. After sharing these portraits with classmates, parents and the larger community via the 100 People web site, I would use another web site I found on NC in the World called Global SchoolNet to partner with a school in another country. Global SchoolNet allows teachers to find global collaborative learning partners. Teachers can choose to participate in a current project, or they can create their own. Collaborating with a school in another country would allow students to gain perspective on how some traits we admire are universally accepted while other traits are specific to certain cultures. The collaboration with my partner school could extend into a study of the 10 Global Lenses presented on the 100 People web site, and students could work together to identify how these areas affect us as individuals in our local communities and as individuals in a global community. By collaborating in this way, students would have the opportunity to participate in global learning activities described and endorsed in the Gibson article where students are deeply enmeshed in learning about different cultures while remaining at home. This lesson would not only help my students become more aware of cultures different from their own but would also open a dialogue with a sister school in a different country.

These two resources can be found at:

For your interest, the statistics that guide the World Portrait Project are:

If the World were 100 PEOPLE:

50 would be female
50 would be male

20 would be children
There would be 80 adults,
14 of who would be 65 and older

There would be:
61 Asians
12 Europeans
13 Africans
14 people from the Western Hemisphere

There would be:
31 Christians
21 Muslims
14 Hindus
6 Buddhists
12 people who believe in other religions
16 people who not be aligned with a religion

17 would speak Chinese
8 would speak Hindustani
8 would speak English
7 would speak Spanish
4 would speak Arabic
4 would speak Russian
52 would speak other languages

82 would be able to read and write; 18 would not

1 would have a college education
1 would own a computer

75 people would have some supply of food and a place to
shelter them from the wind and the rain, but 25 would not

1 would be dying of starvation
17 would be undernourished
15 would be overweight

83 would have access to safe drinking water
17 people would have no clean, safe water to drink

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Comment by Dr. Rita Oates on January 24, 2010 at 12:33pm
What a thoughtful blog posting! I've been involved in a small way with the 100 People project since 2005 and presented with its founder at the SITE conference in Orlando more than three years ago.
After getting involved with them, I was offered the chance to work at ePals, the largest global community of K12 teachers and students! The ePals Global Community has about 600,000 teachers in 200 countries and also features translation into 35 languages. You can post a profile and search on other teacher profiles at no cost.
"The Way We Are" is an ePals project that closely mirrors what you write about.
In addition, you might want to look at the project on Digital Storytelling or the "Focus Area" called Storytelling. Both of these provide rich opportunities for language arts teachers to think about the stories that are part of our culture and tradition and to learn about those from elsewhere.
Let me know if you would like to attend a one-hour webinar about how to find a match and use the projects, focus areas and forums of ePals, all free to K12 students worldwide.

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