This morning, I was listening to NPR, and I heard a story about how one young man decided to get out of his same old bubble. He built an app that used publicly-listed Facebook events to randomly choose new places for him to go — to get him out of that bubble. Attending random events, he made new friends and had various opportunities to view the world from new perspectives.
So how might we help develop similar bubble-popping experiences for young people? I believe that schools like the St. Louis Language Immersion School (SLLIS) can and do help children view the world in new ways. SLLIS has integration as one of its core values: integration across race, income level, language background, immigrant status, and more. The school immerses children in new perspectives, quite literally, by teaching students all of the typical subject areas using a language other than English. For most students at the school, English is their first and only language, but the school also attracts many children from multilingual households.
How else might schools pop bubbles? We cannot just put people together in the same room to explore new perspectives; we have to talk, think, and write about such experiences. In the spring of 2017, the Quality Teachers for English Learners project led by Dr. Kim Song supported a series of family literacy events at SLLIS. I participated in these events as both a leader and a participant with my daughter. Our goal was to work with families to support them sharing their stories, as one more way to “pop some bubbles” and learn from others. I’m thrilled to share the pre-press version of my daughter’s book, in which she documents how her school has opened her eyes to an Outside World.