European secondary schools are eager to add an international orientation to their curriculum. Chinese high schools wish to diversify the learning experience of their teenagers. Connecting these two trends means business. It has a name – Globi. Founded in 2012, this growing company connects high school students to an interesting new world.
The offering of Globi is like music to the ears of any secondary school manager in both Europa and China. What school would not like to include “meaningful and in-depth intercultural experiences” – Globi’s product – for their pupils in the age of 14 to 18?
“We all know student exchanges; it is an industry. The trend we see is that the interest in getting to know the world starts long before the student age, at secondary school”, says Rosanne Severs, founder of Globi. “To secondary schools in the West, getting to know life in the manufacturing powerhouse of the world and its wonderful culture is a valuable addition to the curriculum. There is an equally strong interest among Chinese schools to offer their adolescents a real international experience. Not the experience that gets them to see seven European cities in five days, but actual contact with Europe, its people, its teenagers and its school system. At Globi, we cater for both needs.”
An exchange takes about 10 days in which the students get to stay with host families. The trip offers an intensive program with project work at school around themes such as sustainable development, international education and global citizenship. The schedule for a trip is often tailored to the wishes of schools and students. Visits to companies, schools and universities are often included, as well as some essential cultural attractions. “It is not supposed to be a mere sightseeing trip”, Rosanne insists. “Visiting a production plant may be part of the program for Dutch kids. For Chinese kids, a visit to the Rotterdam harbour, or large infrastructural projects may be very interesting.”
In China, the small company works closely together with a local partner, under the name StudyVision. Severs: “We have strong relationships with several schools in the Fengtai District of Beijing. Furthermore, we also arrange exchanges via our Chinese university network. This enables us to exchange with schools in cities such as Xiamen, Jiaxing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Ordos (Inner Mongolia).”
Globi is very much the linking pin between school in the east and in the west. The company supports schools in setting up international exchanges, help them find a Chinese partner school and provide intercultural training courses. “So far we have helped more than 30 Dutch and Chinese schools establishing partner relationships and organising exchanges. We have also supported another 150 Dutch schools with the internationalisation of their curriculum.”
“Our business model in Europe is a little different of that in China. Over here, independence and autonomy is important to schools. We therefore support the organization of the school towards developing an independent relationship with the Chinese school. The European school pays for a certain amount of support. Chinese schools prefer quite a different approach. As they do not want to be independent and self-reliant in the cooperation they pay a fee per pupil.”
School managers have various reasons to put such an early exchange on the school menu. “It is a wonderful experience. It broadens the outlook on the world and it is therefore a good preparation for a future career. Possibly even a student career, in China.”
The interest in exchanges is growing rapidly among Chinese school managers, Rosanne explains. “For more than just the direct benefit for participants. Over time, there has been a lot of criticism in China over the school system, that some consider too strict and rigid, focused too much on cognitive side of education and offering too little room for interaction between student and teachers. I have noticed that there is great interest in getting to know the European ways of teaching.”