Kenosha, Wis.-Thanks to the help and leadership of Dr. John Skalbeck, six students from India’s JS Global School, A Cambridge International, visited the University of Wisconsin-Parkside for a 2-week long Summer Camp during July and August. The students participated in a pre-college camp along with local students, the Environmental Explorers program and even a model United Nations. They also had the opportunity to experience the local culture, explore the area and visit natural landmarks of southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois.
Dr. John Skalbeck is a professor in the geosciences department and academic director of the Master of Science in sustainable management program at UW-Parkside. During his 75-day sabbatical in India during the Fall 2022 semester, Dr. Skalbeck worked to promote water quality research and education. He also visited and collaborated with the JS Global School, located in Chennai, India.
Water quality and sanitation has been a significant concern in certain parts of India Due to its dense population in urban areas. In order to combat this problem, Dr. Skalbeck asserts that education is key and that there must first be awareness and comprehension about the problem. He says that it is vital to foster a sense of environmental stewardship in young people. “The goal is to reach young kids and develop an environmental stewardship attitude in them.”
He was hosted by the Environmentalist Foundation of India and worked with JS Global Academy and lived with the school’s principal and family during his stay. Skalbeck states that he was afforded incredible hospitality which facilitated the opportunities for collaboration. “There was a connection over educating kids about climate change, water conservation, and nature,” Skalbeck said.
Principal of the JS Global School, Sridevi Gopalakrishna Reddy credits the beginning of the partnership to both Dr. Skalbeck and UW-Parkside professor of business Abey Kuruvilla. She met the pair in 2018 at the International Conference on Sustainable Environment. JS Global School, a K-12 school, is a unique learning platform in the world of education. Established with a vision to inspire a passion of learning in each child, the JS Global School nurtures talent through excellence and innovation in teaching.
Reddy explains that the communication since their initial meeting continued and led to a common interest in environmental initiatives. She explains, “He spent his sabbatical working with E.F.I. foundation in restoring water bodies in Chennai and worked closely with our students. Under his aegis and guidance, the school was able to plan a trip to the University this summer and participate in the Environment Explorer program.”
Principal Reddy goes on to state that the visit was an eye-opening experience for her students and that it will help them decide how to proceed with their future educations. “All six students had a wonderful time learning, exploring, and experiencing a whole new world. It has opened the door of opportunity for higher education,” she reports. She went on to explain that the students will share their experience with a presentation to their classmates.
Ms. Benny, a teacher who accompanied the students during their visited said the exposure was extraordinary and the schedule was perfect. Benny believes that the environmental explorer and some of the other activities can be replicated in Chennai. These activities gave her ideas to have sessions for their upper primary grade students to enhance their research, collaboration, communication, analysis and evaluation skills.
Both Dr. Skalbeck and Principal Reddy expressed gratitude towards UW-Parkside Dean of the College of Natural & Health Sciences Emmanuel Otu for making the visit possible. Dean Otu helped cover the expenses of the visit. Skalbeck asserts that this would not have been possible without Otu’s support and scholarships from the UW-Parkside CNHS.
Dean Otu believes in the importance of educating children in relatable ways. “The world continues to manifest as a common bowl. Thus, it behooves leaders, at any level, to connect the children across continents, even as we grapple with local financial stewardship. The friends the JS Global students will forge with their fellow American-resident campers could be lifelong,” Otu said.
The exchange program that brought the JS Global School students to UW-Parkside was borne of Dr. Skalbeck’s mission to educate youth and provide opportunities for them to learn about climate change, water conservation, and nature. Skalbeck and Principal Reddy hope that the relationship can continue to develop and in addition to continued visits to UW-Parkside can eventually provide an opportunity for local students to visit India. The cultural exchange is an invaluable experience in an increasingly global world.
Written by UW-Parkside
Link to original story: https://www.uwp.edu/explore/news/js-global-school-23.cfm