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  • Writer's pictureStacey Chiew

An Interview With Dr Jennifer Williams – The Woman Who Makes A Positive Global Impact

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. - Dalai Lama

Dr. Jennifer Williams founded TeachSDGs in 2016.

Dalai Lama once said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” In other words, never underestimate the power of what an individual can do. The truth is no one is too small to make a difference. When a pebble touches a pond, it forms ripples and slowly they spread out.

In January of 2016, what had spoken by then the United Nations Ambassador of Grenada, Ambassador Dessima Williams to Dr Jennifer Williams struck a chord in her heart: Your efforts to work collaboratively as educators are a good start. Though if we are going to reach these global goals, we must find ways to move beyond working in collaboration alone and instead join together in solidarity.

This was the beginning of a ripple effect.

Jennifer knew very well that the key to realizing a mission is to promote the idea and take action to make it happen. There was no other way.

Within weeks, together with her three co-founders, Ada McKim, Amy Rosenstein and Fran Siracusa, she created the Global Goals Educator Task Force, a joint effort with the United Nations to find creative solutions to bring the 17 goals into the classroom in every country.

A globally-minded educator, Jennifer has dedicated herself for over 20 years to the field of education. She works with schools, universities, and organizations from around the world. But one of the achievements that is clearly closest to her heart is founding TeachSDGs. From 2016 to 2018, she has worked tirelessly promoting the organization through meaningful use of technology. Due to her efforts, many educators worldwide are now aware of the organization and they joined the quest of TeachSDGs in the hope of encouraging meaningful change in the world one project at a time.

Today, more and more schools around the world are incorporating TeachSDGs into their classroom. If you are an educator and would like to inspire others to support a good cause and make a positive change, please visit her website to find out more:

1. What inspired you to start the TeachSDGs movement?

My personal interest in global education started many years before the Global Goals were created. Prior to 2015, as I would share my passion and beliefs, teachers all seemed to agree that there was a need, however, they did not necessarily see how it fit in with their work in the classroom. Once the Global Goals came out, I found that there was a dramatic shift in perception. Educators began to see how they too had a responsibility to be a part of the solution. The Global Goals became the roadmap for teachers and students to take action together.

2. What are the challenges you face while implementing SDGs globally?

Years ago, I found that teachers really did not quite understand the “why” of global education. Today, I find that they now understand the need, but are challenged with the “how.” As the Global Goals are not part of most the curricula, teachers oftentimes need to be creative in finding the resources and structures needed to connect the Goals to their instructional practices. Without widespread acceptance and alignment in education, teachers often are working in isolation to bring the Goals to their students. TeachSDGs has allowed teachers to come together, to connect regardless of distance or borders, and to assemble and mobilize on the SDGs as a united front.

3. What motivates you to keep going?

Our world of brave and passionate students and teachers continue to serve as my motivation and my source of hope. Each week, I hear from global educators that are taking small-for-them, but big-for-our-world steps to make a positive difference. I feel honoured to be able to publish their stories, amplify their messages, and champion their work for a better tomorrow. They are my everyday heroes. For people and planet, we must keep working together toward a shared goal.

Article published in Dreamic educational magazine, 2019.

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