Philadelphia was named the first World Heritage City in the United States last year, joining the ranks of Paris, Florence, Jerusalem, Cairo and a host of other historically significant cities around the world.

To bring awareness to Philadelphia’s World Heritage designation, the Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) has forged a collaborative effort with area institutions and organizations to present the World Heritage Education Program at Andrew Jackson Elementary School.

“The development of a citizenry that is globally aware is a core component to the city’s recent World Heritage City designation,” said Zabeth Teelucksingh, Executive Director of GPA. “We are delighted with our partners to offer a World Heritage Education Program at Andrew Jackson School and hope with the necessary funding to be able to replicate this important initiative.”

Over three days, Jackson Elementary students will participate in educational activities, engage with representatives and leaders from various cultures, and visit the Franklin Institute, Art Museum of Philadelphia, and Penn Museum.

“Penn Museum is thrilled to take a leading role in the World Heritage Education Week at Andrew Jackson School. We are a perfect partner for the World Heritage Initiative,” said Hitomi Yoshida, Diversity Programs Manager and a member of the Philadelphia World Heritage Initiative Education Task Force.

“The museum’s world-class collection of international cultural artifacts encapsulates our diverse heritages. It helps to illustrate who we are and where we come from through tangible objects. By offering rich and interactive global learning programs like the International Classroom Program, Penn Museum will provide a window into other cultures and a reflection on students’ own traditions and heritages,” Yoshida stated.

Yoshida’s colleagues - Anastasia Shown, a outreach consultant for the University of Pennsylvania's South Asia Center & Middle East Centers; Raili Roy, Associate Director and Lecturer of the South Asia Center; and Amelia Carter, Program Coordinator for the Middle East Center - as members of the Global Philadelphia Association, have coordinated a variety of activities to support World Heritage Education Program in Greater Philadelphia.

The collective created the Philadelphia Heritage tool kit, an online resource with lesson plans across different disciplines and activities for teachers to educate their students about Philadelphia and world heritage.

“The theme of World Heritage can help students understand how we are connected to the world and how the world is connected to us. It can also help deepen their knowledge about less commonly taught world regions,” Shown shared.

“Teachers at Jackson are utilizing the Philadelphia World Heritage Tool Kit created by local educators through our 2015 Global Education Summer Institute. Students at Jackson are experiencing the global character of our city through field trips to Museums with international exhibits. The entire school community is celebrating their diversity and heritage through interactive presentations and dialogue. We are thrilled to be able to lend our support to this program and are excited to take part in what we hope to be a continuing partnership with public schools in Philadelphia.”

Shown partnered with the Penn Museum to host the first World Heritage Teacher Workshop last November to inform educators on how to use the tool kit.

“Andrew Jackson School is extremely excited to pilot the first ever World Heritage Education Program,” exclaimed Kelli Mantell, an AmeriCorps VISTA Community Partnerships Coordinator at Jackson Elementary.

“This three day event will serve over 200 Jackson students, providing them with world class global education programs, international guest speakers as well as renowned performers. Our students are looking forward to engaging events at Jackson as well as educational opportunities in the form of field trips to the Penn Musuem, the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Art Museum. The program will culminate in an incredible closing ceremony featuring insight from local government liaisons, as well as reflections from students and staff dressed in their own unique cultural garb. Jackson is honored to partner with Global Philadelphia and Penn Museum and hopes to continue this program for years to come.”

Nikia Brown, World Heritage Coordinator with GPA, values the city’s “eclectic and distinct neighborhoods” that showcases each “community” with “its own past and unique story to share.”

“GPA endeavors to unearth the treasures that lay right before us, yet seemingly go unseen. Through World Heritage Education Programs, we hope to empower students to investigate their neighborhoods, promote their culture, and take their rightful place in the global economy. With the proper funding, we aim to replicate this experience for students attending under-resourced schools in marginalized neighborhoods.”

Capping off the program this Friday will be long-time South Philadelphia resident and City Representative, Sheila Hess, who will be the MC for the grand finale.

“This week offers the students an opportunity to learn more about their own heritage as well as their shared heritage with other Philadelphians,” said Hess. “We all know that Philadelphia is famous for being the birthplace of modern democracy, but our neighborhoods and residents bring a more diverse and contemporary heritage into the mix and it is important to celebrate all of that!”

For more details on Philadelphia’s World Heritage City status, visit www.worldheritagephl.org.

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