World Bank Leader Gives Ballou Students a Global Perspective  

Jan, 20, 2012 - In Motivational Address, US Executive Director Connects Program’s Mission to Martin Luther King’s Legacy


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World Bank Leader Gives Ballou Students a Global Perspective

Ballou Senior High School junior Joseph Wood wants to learn more about the world and feed his curiosity of various countries and cultures.

On Wednesday, his interest in the global community expanded exponentially with a visit from Ian Solomon, United States executive director of the World Bank.

“I’m interested in multiculturalism so this sounded fascinating to me,” said Wood, 17. “I wanted to see how other countries live, see the struggles they go through and learn about the good things they do.”

Solomon, who was appointed to his post by President Barack Obama, spoke with about 30 students in Ballou’s library and media center about his job and the role of the World Bank in providing assistance to and fighting poverty in developing nations around the world.

In a multimedia presentation and Q&A session, Solomon connected the World Bank’s mission to the dreams and goals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by discussing King’s legacy of service, sacrifice and commitment as well as King’s vision for racial justice, economic equity and a global perspective.

“This is a small world with big challenges and big opportunities,” Solomon said. “Keep in mind, if you work hard and put your mind to it, you too could be great.”

One of about 50 partnerships at Ballou, the World Bank has had a relationship with the Southeast school for seven years. Not only has the partnership resulted in facilities upgrades, such as a new Student Resource Center and beautification projects, it also provides internships and opportunities for students to learn from high-profile personalities such as Solomon.

“They’re beginning to see successful people who look like them and have similar backgrounds,” said Ballou Principal Rahman Branch, noting visits from other African-American celebrities such as last year’s visit by first lady Michelle Obama. “This is leading by doing at its finest.”

For Wood, a student in Ballou’s International Education Program, the visit stoked his enthusiasm for a trip abroad. Currently, Wood is currently collecting money for the program’s journey to Ecuador.

“I’m just very excited about this trip,” Wood said. “I became interested in Latin American culture after reading a book that showed how people in Latin American countries live.”

Bri’Yanna Perry, 17, a Ballou senior in the International Education Program who plans to travel to London with classmates in the program, has interned at Wells Fargo Bank and connected her experience with what she heard from Solomon.

“I think about how some countries are poor and some are rich,” Perry said. “Then I think, ‘What does America do to help other countries?’ Then I hear about the World Bank and that’s something I didn’t know about that’s given me a positive outlook.”

Ballou Spanish teacher Allison Baugher said travel abroad programs at the high school level have become increasingly popular, “almost an expectation,” she added. Past travels with the International Education Program have taken Ballou students to Morocco and Spain. Students immerse themselves in the culture and language of the countries they visit.

“Being immersed in a culture, they realize the details of how others live,” Baugher said. “The reality of extreme poverty in Morocco struck a lot of students. They came away with a greater sense of what their lives are like compared to others throughout the world.”

Since the program started, Baugher said Ballou’s Spanish program has grown from Spanish 1 and 2 to more classes including Advanced Placement Spanish. And students in program have a higher graduation rate. But the program, in combination with visits from high-profile international players such as Solomon, open students eyes to a world of possibilities.

“One of the biggest challenges I have is getting students to believe that it’s possible to leave DC – getting them past that barrier,” Baugher said. “Students who travel abroad know it is an option.”

Solomon said he hoped his visit would have an impact on Ballou students considering their own career paths – whether her in the United States or the global marketplace.

“This is an opportunity to give a little back and pay a little forward,” Solomon said. “Maybe one of these kids someday will start their own social revolution.”

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