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International student programs bring about valuable cultural exchanges and priceless high school experiences

School director Cynthia Trevino-Aversa works closely with all of the exchange students at Indian River Charter High School. Here, Mira, Anna and Noah enjoy a break between classes with her.

School director Cynthia Trevino-Aversa works closely with all of the exchange students at Indian River Charter High School. Here, Mira, Anna and Noah enjoy a break between classes with her.

A team of astronomers at Johns Hopkins University concluded that the universe is expanding faster than it is supposed to, possibly due to a strange energy field believed to have been switched on about 100,000 years ago. Adding to the confusion is the force field known as dark energy, accelerating the expansion like revving up a Harley with a V-rod. The phenomenon seems to be a common one. As the universe is expanding at a faster pace, so is the planet Earth, undergoing a cultural if not economic globalization that is also accelerating at an unprecedented pace.  

As a result, more and more people from Dubuque to Dubai have recognized the need to protect the interests of the entire human species. Regardless of nationality or ideology, they are involving themselves in safeguarding universal justice and human rights, as well as addressing environmental threats, such as a hole in the ozone, the accumulation of greenhouse gases, the melting ice cap, the extinction of animal species such as the sea turtle and the Sumatran elephant, famine, disease, rattling sabers and nuclear anything. 

Following the tradition of early oceangoing explorers who carried potatoes in one direction and tea in another, powerful currents such as African American jazz and blue jeans have been shaping the world for a while, although possibly not as significantly as an earlier global agreement achieved when the telegraph established Greenwich Time as the standard. Today we enjoy a free market as well as international agencies such as the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the U.N., NATO, the World Trade Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to keep everyone in the loop.

The consequence is that common concerns require individuals from diverse cultures to cooperate on a regular basis, not only with strangers, but with strangers who look nothing like them, speak a different language, even exhibit different expressions of behavior, including the distance one might stand next to another without being thought impolite. This makes the short division of separating people into “us” and “them” increasingly difficult to sustain.