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Tales from the Loft - Charlotte International Cabinet

Two weeks ago our middle schoolers presented in front of the Charlotte International Cabinet. They addressed the following question: How may Charlotte improve the lives of our foreign born population through actions that work towards the UN Global Goals? What policies or initiatives should the city make towards furthering their efforts?

It all started with a conversation with Dr. David Lynn, Chair of the Cabinet. Each April the cabinet addresses the UN SDGs and how Charlotte's efforts towards meeting these goals may affect the local immigrant population. Last year they spoke directly to SDG #4: Quality Education. This year, they focused on clarifying Charlotte's commitment to the goals overall. Because I had attended in the past and had explained our dedication to teaching the Goals, our middle schoolers got invited to come share their ideas at the meeting. Initially, when speaking with Dr. Lynn, I planned to attend with Miss Emily and explained that our students could not get to Uptown by 7:45 in the morning. Had he never seen the traffic on I77 southbound?? They would have to leave at 6:30 AM! He offered a Zoom option and reiterated his support in our students attending.

So I asked the students - Zoom or 6:30 AM commute....

They immediately said they wanted to do the whole thing. ....

But Wait.

Would I reward their efforts?

I suggested we have lunch at Optimist Hall afterwards and they were sold.

(Food always solves middle school negotiations.)

Using mapping that Emily provided, the students compared Charlotte data statistically by viewing poverty and income, foreign born and domestic, tree canopy coverage, and all the things. They drew connections as they studied each map layout for the various demographics. We discussed which of the seventeen SDGs most closely related to our local communities and then researched further who was currently working on these areas of growth. This is an enormous amount of information and digging for middle school age students. They did a tremendous job! With guidance from Emily and me, they summarized their most important points for a slide presentation and then shared all of their work with the Cabinet.

All of their work paid off and culminated in a day to remember! The Cabinet graciously listened and responded positively. The students voiced their suggestions, putting action to our studies. They experienced a government meeting and observed how our local officials navigate the city's challenges. It proved to be an impactful and likely lasting learning experience. Thank you to David Lynn and the International Cabinet for hosting us!

After we had our moment with the Cabinet, we walked to Luminous Lane, where we happened upon the lead muralist and activist for this artistic alleyway. She explained several pieces, but one that stood out to me was the original purpose of the art gallery. From her explanation, many people, especially those living in poverty or that are currently unhoused, feel uncomfortable walking into museums or galleries to view artwork. They have lots of reasons for their discomfort, but one connecting thread in humans is that we all tend to appreciate art and draw comfort from spending time contemplating displays. Luminous Lane offers our Charlotte community the opportunity to view commissioned, meaningful artwork in a public and open, free space.

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What a great experience our Middle Schoolers had. Thank you for all the out of school time and networking you did, Patricia, to make those connections that led to the invite in the first place. I know they worked hard for those presentations and they did amazing! Go Middle School!

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