Bright Light Volunteers Goes to Harvard

Harvard’s Think Tank on Global Education has invited Stacie Freeman, Bethel University professor and Co-Executive Director of Bright Light Volunteers, to be at the forefront of testing and developing cutting-edge curriculum to advance competence in global studies, in classrooms, schools and school districts via participation in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education program.

Freeman states, “Participants in Harvard’s Think Tank will be sharing and learning ways to foster global competence in our schools by co-constructing curriculum, developing educators and devising a strategy for systemic change in global education.” 

As a participant in the upcoming institute, Freeman will take part in “a dynamic, large-scale collaboration to create and adapt lesson plans, and scale global education” for students in the rural, Southern, Title I schools where she teaches.

Historically, Title 1 students in the rural south have had limited access to global citizenship education and to the multiple intellectual and social benefits of participation. Bethel University and Bright Light Volunteers initially partnered to support the U.S. Department of Education’s Purpose for Title 1 schools: “improving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged,” by “closing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students and between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers.” (2004)

Although Freeman has already devised and implemented a curriculum which capitalizes on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, she is eager to learn more and to use that knowledge to help “level out the playing field” when it comes to access to global education.

Catherine Greenberg, Founder & Co-Executive of Bright Light Volunteers is excited about how Freeman’s participation in the institute will strengthen the educational aspect of the Dallas-based nonprofit’s student global service learning programs.

Greenberg offers, “Being able to improve how we implement our signature pedagogy in global education and provide teachers with the tools to design global service learning experiences is an enterprise that will change lives.”

Bright Light Volunteers is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization, designed to empower program participants and community partners through education and service. Specifically, our programs adhere to global service-learning best practices, which combine community service with both experiential learning in the field and online coursework through our university partner. Our vision is to make the world a brighter place by creating a more peaceful, just, interconnected world where global challenges and opportunities are met by educated, compassionate, global citizens and leaders.

Founded in 1842, Bethel University is a nonprofit institution that is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Bethel University’s mission is to create opportunities for members of the learning community to develop in a Christian environment their highest intellectual, spiritual, and social potential. This includes synchronous and asynchronous modes of education.


Why Should You Travel Abroad?

Whether you’re a busy college student like myself or you work a full-time job, with the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, the idea of travelling seems almost out of reach. However, I encourage you to take a step back and consider all the possibilities the world has laid at your feet. If you find yourself on the edge of a decision to travel abroad or not, consider these benefits.


Travelling Is Educational Travelling abroad gives you the opportunity to see the value of other cultures. It gives you a new understanding of the world’s people and might even shift your perspective on how the world works. Maybe the way you have been looking at global issues is not the only way! Going abroad and experiencing this first hand is a deeply educational, life-changing experience. You can read as many books as you want but you will never truly understand the world outside your walls until you go experience it for yourself. And how impressed will colleges, grad schools, and future employers be when you add a study abroad experience to your resume? It certainly speaks volumes about your ability to think outside the box, navigate new / uncomfortable situations, and behave in a culturally competent manner.


Travelling Builds Connections Never underestimate the power of a connection. Each person you meet has the potential to change your life. Whether it is someone you meet on the street or someone you roomed with at a local hostel, everyone has potential to become a friend. I met one of my very closest friends on a plane ride home from Ft. Lauderdale. Travelling is also a great way to expand your professional network. As the world gets smaller, it’s more important than ever to have connections outside your local area.


Travelling Promotes Growth With travel, comes spiritual, intellectual, and social growth. When you experience the beauty of the world, you find new ways to refresh your soul. Being in a new place can test your ability to adapt to difficult situations and thus hone your problem solving and critical thinking skills. These skills will not only serve to help you, but others as well. As travellers, we are better able to see the connection between the local, national, and international and have an improved understanding of our role as global citizens and leaders in solving the world’s problems.


I am in awe of the many wonders that are continually laid out before us. Travelling has given me endless opportunities to spread love, make memories, build connections, and grow to my full potential. I want to encourage those who are unsure about international travel. This short list contains just a few reasons to say YES to making the world a brighter place through international travel and education. Do it!!!