Ensuring a Global Education for All Students

Our world has never been more interconnected or interdependent. We’re all global “neighbors,” and each of us can make a commitment to understanding each other and working together.

Each November, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and State invite educational institutions and cultural programs to celebrate how they prepare people to become effective global citizens and attract students from abroad to study, learn, and share ideas with their peers in this country.

This year, International Education Week runs from Nov. 17 through 21.

Here at ED, I work in the International and Foreign Language Education office researching our grantees’ practices and successes, particularly related to outreach to minority serving institutions and community colleges, local teachers, and colleges of education.


Katrina Dillon is a former teacher who is helping educators to foster global understanding in their students. (Photo credit: University of New Mexico)

To learn more about how our university partners work to foster global understanding on the local level, I recently interviewed Katrina Dillon—a former teacher—who is helping educators to foster global understanding in their students.

During her time as an elementary and middle school teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dillon used to struggle to find content that reflected the diversity in her classroom, which includes a large number of Latino students.

“Students need to see themselves in the curriculum, and as their teacher, you feel responsible for filling in those gaps in content,” Dillon explained.

Today, Dillon works at the Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII) at the University of New Mexico, where she develops resources that teachers around the country can use to infuse their K-12 curriculum with rich, culturally appropriate content. The LAII is one of 100 National Resource Centers supported by grant funding from ED under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. As part of the outreach at the LAII, Dillon said, “We’re trying to create materials with content we feel is relevant across the board for students.”

The Institute’s offerings include the Vamos a Leer blog and a monthly book club that highlight Latino and indigenous literature, as well as resources such as ¡Viva la Revolución! An Educator’s Guide to the Mexican Revolution. These works contain lesson plans, background information, activities, and novel and film guides to help educators incorporate Latin American history and culture into the classroom. The Institute also hosts workshops with topics like, “How to Teach About El Día de los Muertos,” to train teachers to bring Latin American content into the classroom.

Dillion working with teachers during the “How to Teach About El Día de los Muertos” workshop. (Photo credit: University of New Mexico)

Dillion working with teachers during the “How to Teach About El Día de los Muertos” workshop. (Photo credit: University of New Mexico)

In addition to her work at LAII, Dillon is a doctoral candidate in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico. After graduation, she hopes to continue working with students in teacher education programs to advance the mission of ensuring a global education for all students.

Through my studies, my internship at the Department, and in talking with educators like Katrina Dillon, one thing has become increasingly clear—rich, international education is necessary. In a country as diverse as ours, students can benefit from learning to interact comfortably and confidently with people from all backgrounds and points of view. Our students also can benefit from understanding their own cultures and backgrounds, and how their histories and values contribute to the richness of the American experience.

Kaley Palanjian is a junior at Georgetown University studying linguistics, with a minor in education, inquiry, and justice. She is interning in the Office of Postsecondary Education for the International and Foreign Language Education office.


  1. Katrina has done a wonderful job of creating curriculum that is culturally relevant, global and takes into account local customs and traditions. The LAII Educator Guides are user friendly and rich in providing background knowledge. The educator workshops are a lot of fun and I always leave with great ideas that I can walk right into my classroom with and use. The Vamos a Leer blog and book club gives me great literature teaching ideas to use in my classroom.

  2. I am so pleased to participate in the LAII Teacher Committee at UNM and work with Katrina Dillon where she helps to facilitate cross cultural workshops. Working in a Title 1 Middle School setting, the resources that the Institute provides are absolutely invaluable. Katrina indicates the need to reflect the backgrounds our students in the curriculum. This is an important prerogative to achieve social justice at our schools. Integrating the “hands on activities” presented at the numerous cultural workshops, have enriched my lesson plans. Our students need to foster stronger cultural identities as they learn to participate in diverse environments. Multicultural education is the cornerstone of producing thoughtful global citizens.

  3. I have been trying to find some way to get information on adult aid for people with disabilities with learndisabilities for Ged & trade school or vocational training can you help in that

  4. Global understanding in today’s world is important. But what does it say of an educational system that stands for thinking globally but not acting locally? That is the nature of the public school system that is a practical monopoly. This local monopoly is ill suited to contributing to the understanding of global diversity and the richness of the American experience. However, the local school monopoly is well suited to the indoctrination of American students into not just a one America culture, but a one world vision reflecting American exceptionalism.

    • A good point, Ernest, but I would argue that there are always variations in the system. As part of the staff at the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute, I can speak to our experience and say that we put every effort into ensuring that our “global understanding” has local relevance. We focus on the students in our community and then work outward from there, finding ways to expand their worldview using culturally relevant pedagogy.

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