Dr. Denise R. Ames
“Twins,” I screeched. This was my first reaction to the news that my daughter, Mia, was pregnant with twins. She told me the news that she was pregnant a few months earlier but she wanted to actually see me in person to give me the twins’ news. Actually, it was my granddaughter, Lilly, who conveyed the numbers by shyly holding up her two little fingers to indicate that she was going to be a big sister to two babies, not just one.
I am elated that I will have two more grandchildren but, to be honest, my first reaction was how is this going to impact my life. My daughter and son-in-law certainly had that reaction as well. Even my son, the new uncle, and daughter-in-law were in shock. I guess it is natural that our first reaction to such a life-changing announcement is a practical one, how are we going to care for these two new babies? How much work will it involve (everyone says a lot)? Especially given the fact that they live in a four-story (with basement) brownstone in Brooklyn that has limited space and a tiny backyard.
After the shock wore off a bit and I agreed to help out for a couple of months with the newborns and household, I began to think about the event more philosophically and in a larger picture than poor me, I will have to change a lot of diapers. These are two new children being added to a world that was far different than mine and my children’s world. Although they are entering as privileged children of well-educated parents who have a house, security, and the wherewithal to navigate a complex and ever-changing world; their future still seems uncertain to me and cause for concern.
Actually, the upcoming birth of my grandchildren coincides with the reasoning behind the impetus to make some changes at the Center for Global Awareness. My partner Nancy Harmon and I have decided that we as elders of society have a real contribution to make in helping to make a bright future for the next generation, my three grandchildren included. Of course, we are just a small non-profit trying to provide alternative educational resources to students and educators grades 9-university, but these small efforts collectively make a large movement.
As veteran educators, Nancy and I have thought our best efforts were sharing our educational experiences and expertise with students and educators, especially in the areas of cross-cultural awareness and infusing global perspectives. Yet, as the years have floated by, we feel less connected with the educational community as we did in the past. The standards, testing craze and STEM emphasis have left us more marginalized as enthusiasts of globally-focused curricula. Instead of packing up the shop though, we have decided to channel our energy and focus into a new initiative.
We feel that the elders need to step up to be real leaders in forging a bright, sustainable and peaceful future. As elders, we want to do our part. Therefore, we are developing an initiative called GRASP (Global Awareness Adult Study-Group Program). The mission of GRASP is to enhance adult learners’ global awareness by offering conversation materials that holistically present significant global topics using a unique four dimensional approach: see, know, evolve, and engage. By participating in this inspiring conversation program, adult learners will be able to see different perspectives and views, know more about significant global topics, evolve attitudes and shift behaviors, and engage more actively in helping to solve pressing global concerns through interacting more deeply with others.
Our purpose in developing GRASP is that we feel the world has become more polarized, confrontational, uncivilized, and uncompassionate. Many of us don’t listen well to each other and many righteously believe their way or the highway. We feel that informal study groups of significant global issues are a way to inspire thoughtful conversations, deep listening, changing attitudes and engagement in participants’ communities.
We are hard at work adapting some of our books, materials and website to an adult group study program format. Although we will continue to have our books and resources available to students and educators, our new program will consume most of our time.
We ask that you, our loyal blog followers, help spread the word for our fall launch. We hope that the program is successful, not for our own sake, but for the sake of my still developing twins and all those of the next generation.