Our world is shrinking. How do we prepare kids to thrive in a global society?

We live in an ever-shrinking world. Today, people can travel to practically any place on the planet—distances that used to take weeks or even months to traverse—in less than a day. People on opposite sides of the globe can talk face-to-face through handheld devices—a reality that was a futuristic dream even in my own lifetime. Thanks to constant advances in transportation and communication, we're living in an increasingly global society—one that our children will need to understand as they inherit it.

After 9/11, author and mother Homa Sabet Tavangar felt compelled to explore the impact of our rapidly changing world on her children. Tavangar had worked for 15 years helping companies become competitive in the global market, but she knew humanity needed more than than global business savvy. It needed compassionate, culturally competent people who strive to understand others and see themselves as citizens of the world.


RELATED: For refugee women trapped in limbo, 'The Sisterhood' offers a vital lifeline of hope and support

When Tavangar looked for resources to help her parent her kids toward that goal, she came up short. So she researched and wrote the book she wanted to read herself. Her first book, "Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World" became a tool for parents and educators to encourage global awareness and citizenship. Since its publication, Tavangar has written several more books and create additional resources for teachers to bring the world into the classroom.

Her newest project takes a hands-on approach to exploring the world. The Global Kids activity deck, is a set of 50 colorful, educational cards with activities from around the globe, designed to help kids explore the beauty, wonder, and diversity of humanity. The activities can be done at home or in a classroom, and (refreshingly) require no screens or technology of any kind.

Annie Reneau

The activity cards are split into five themes—Create (arts and crafts), Play (games), Eat (recipes), Celebrate (holidays and traditions), and Help Out (ways to be of service). Each activity comes from a different country or culture and uses inexpensive, everyday materials. Some activity examples include a froggy coin toss game called Sapo from Peru, Maasai-inspired beadwork from Kenya, a Three Sisters Soup recipe from the Iroquois nation, and a "Plastics Penalty Pot," inspired by Rwanda being the first country to ban all single-use plastic bags.

While all five themes fulfill specific educational purposes, Tavangar says the Help Out category was particularly important to her and her team:

"We really wanted kids to consider how they can make a difference in their local community and the wider world, how they can build their empathy muscles, and unlike so many products aimed at children, to help them think beyond their self-interest and serve others and our planet. So, for example our Japan Wishing Tree activity has kids think about their 'circles of caring,' and the South Africa card teaches Ubuntu ('I am because we are')—the meta-cognitive activities help kids grow in empathy beyond themselves."

Wendy Turner, Delaware's Teacher of the Year in 2017, has been using Global Kids in her second grade classroom with great success. She told Upworthy:

"Global Kids has allowed my students to learn about countries and cultures they would not otherwise know about. These activities are accessible and highly engaging and offer opportunities for geography connections and social emotional learning.

Learning to say thank you in multiple languages has ignited a passion for just saying thank you at every opportunity in our classroom, which creates a positive culture. Our wishes for the world based on the activity from Japan fostered deep, thoughtful connections to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and what we hope to see in the world. Ubuntu, an activity from South Africa, reminds us we are all connected and dependent on each other.

All of these activities support self-awareness and social awareness, key social emotional learning competencies. I love Global Kids on so many levels!"

Global Kids was designed for kids ages 4 to 10, but Tavangar says that the cards make great conversations starters for older kids, teens, and adults as well. "We hope that as kids do the activities or families start conversations based on the cards, their curiosity about and empathy for the world will grow," she says. She hopes the activities will help "to remove the barrier of 'otherness' so that difference or distance are not to be feared."

Tavangar was born in Iran and has lived on four different continents, but she knows that most kids will have to learn about the world from wherever they live. "Privileged kids will have an opportunity to travel, but every child deserves the world," says Tavangar. "The globalization train has left the station. Our learning and mindsets need to catch up, and not just for those who can afford it."

Collecting diverse activities from 50 different cultures sounds pretty straightforward, but Tavangar and her team found that the process wasn't so simple. "It turned into quite a complex challenge," she says, "based on our commitment to demonstrate diversity through many lenses: geographic, ability, activity types, religions and traditions, centering indigenous cultures where possible, moving beyond the 'single story' of a culture, and all at the same time keeping descriptions, activities and materials simple enough for a five year-old to enjoy."

That balance between complexity and simplicity is tricky to strike when helping young kids learn about our vast, diverse world. But Tavangar says her experiences with her first book revealed a universal theme that brings the concept of "global citizenship" down to a child's level—friendship.

"I've had a chance to travel all over the United States and to various countries to speak with parents, executives, educators and kids about global citizenship," she says. "When I ask any audience, 'What are the qualities of a good friend?' the answer is the same, wherever I go: loyal, kind, good listener, helpful, respectful, non-judgmental, fun, and so on."

"Being a global kid is like being a friend to the whole human race," Tavangar explains, adding:

"When we explore the beauty, fun, and wonder that our wide world has to offer, it makes us feel happy, connected, and curious to learn more—just like a good friendship does. Plus, you can have more than one friend, and they can be very different from each other. This shows us that thinking in an either-or construct can be hurtful, just like we don't have to choose between local or global. We can grow room in our hearts to care about our local communities and our wider world. So, being a global or world citizen can feel intimate and personal, not 'foreign' or compromising of our concern for our community or country."

Tavangar says that the most challenging thing about helping kids become conscientious world citizens is actually adults. "We all grew up with biases, were educated with 'colonial' worldviews, and continue to take in news media that pits 'us' against 'them,'" she says. "Our children are born free of these prejudices, and while even an infant's brain processes bias, thanks to neuroplasticity, the brain can quickly replace bias with love and curiosity—if it is demonstrated."

RELATED: Teachers are sharing epic quotes from little kids, and they're so wholesome and hilarious

So what advice does Tavangar have for parents or educators who want to make sure kids are prepared to live in and contribute to a global society? "Don't be afraid you don't know enough!" she says. "Learn alongside your children, and model to them that you are learning, too. You can demonstrate that this openness to learning, respect for diverse cultures and traditions, appreciation of beauty, practice of empathy and kindness are your core values, and that you don't ignore differences, but you celebrate them and 'see' them."

Tavangar also suggests some specific habits families can establish to help encourage global citizenship:

"Hang a world map or put a globe in a prominent spot, take adventures in your hometown to try new foods, meet new neighbors, watch a movie from another country. Read books by diverse authors—both for your own reading and with your children. Consider how world peace can start at the dinner table—from the variety of foods you eat, to the quality of conversation, and the friends you invite to break bread with you. None of these need to be complicated or expensive, but each step creates a lasting impression on our children."

Here's to raising kids who will make our global neighborhood a compassionate, just, and prosperous home for us all.

True

Marine veteran Paul Coppola is a wonderful example of the transformational power of service dogs.

Ten years ago, he was rocked by two explosions in an attack that took the lives of 17 Marines in Afghanistan. The attack left Coppola with traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and an injured back.

Coppola didn't think his struggles warranted a service dog but after prodding from his wife, he was paired with Dobby, a four-year-old black Lab mix trained by veteran organization Operation Delta Dog.

Dobby and Paul soon became best friends and partners in life.

Keep Reading Show less

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande duked it out on Jimmy Fallon's 'The Tonight Show.'

There are pop stars, and then there are singers. While recording studio technology can make people sound like amazing singers, the proof is in their live performances.

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande took it a whole step further on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," delivering not only a jaw-dropping live performance but doing so in the form of revolving pop diva hits in an "impossible karaoke" showdown. In less than five minutes, they showed off their combined ability to nail pretty much anything, from imitating iconic singers' styles to belting out well-known songs with their own vocal stylings.

Watch this and try not to be impressed:

Keep Reading Show less
via © Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021 and © Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Two of the winners of the Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

A few weeks ago, Upworthy shared the hilarious winners of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and the winner was a well-timed shot of a monkey who appears to have hurt the family jewels on a suspension wire. (Don't worry folks, no monkeys were harmed for the awards.)

The awards were created six years ago by Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks to promote positive awareness of animal welfare issues. The competition has been so successful, the duo decided to branch out and create the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, where photographers can submit pictures of their furry friends for a £2,000 ($2650) prize.

Donations generated by the competition go to Animal Support Angels, an animal welfare charity in the UK.

This year's winner is Zoe Ross for "Whizz Pop," a photo of her labrador puppy Pepper who appears to be tooting bubbles.

“We never ever thought that we would win but entered the competition because we loved the idea of helping a charity just by sending in a funny photo of Pepper," Ross said in a statement. "She is such a little monkey, and very proud of herself, bringing in items from the garden and parading past you until you notice her. She is the happiest puppy we’ve ever known and completely loved to pieces.”

Here are the rest of the winners of the 2021 Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

Overall Winner: Zoe Ross "Whizz Pop," Penkridge, UK

© Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Did this puppy swallow a bubble?

Best Dog Category: Carmen Cromer "Jurassic Bark," Pittsboro, North Carolina

© Carmen Cromer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"My golden retriever, Clementine, loves to stick her face in front of the hose while I water the plants. Her expression in this photo made me think of a tyrannosaurus rex, hence the title, "Jurassic Bark." Duh nuh nuuuh nuhnuh, duh nuh nuuuh nuh nuh, dun duh duuuh nuh nuh nuh nUUUUUUhhhh," Carmen Cromer.

Best Cat Category: Kathrynn Trott "Photobomb," Ystradgynlais, UK

© Kathrynn Trott/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Jeff stealing the limelight from his brother Jaffa.

Best Horse Category: Mary Ellis, "I said 'Good Morning," Platte River State Park, Nebraska

© Mary Ellis/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I like to visit the stable horses before I begin my hike at the State Park. This is the reply I received when I said 'Good morning,'" Mary Ellis.

All Other Creatures Category: Sophie Bonnefoi, "The Eureka Moment," Oxford, UK

© Sophie Bonnefoi/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Cutie and Speedy are two chicks hatched from eggs placed in an incubator at home in August 2020. They spent their first few weeks indoors. In the photo, they are just over two weeks old. They were curious about everything. This is the day they discovered their own shadow. It was hilarious to see them wondering and exploring that 'dark thing' that was moving with them!" Sophie Bonnefoi.

Junior Category: Suzi Lonergan, "Sit!" Pacific Palisades, California

© Suzi Lonergan/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Our granddaughter gave the command to sit. Beau is very obedient," Suzi Lonergan.

Pets Who Look Like Their Owners Category: Jakub Gojda, "That Was a Good One!" Czech Republic

© Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This photo was taken by accident during the photography of my ex-girlfriend with her beloved mare. For this cheerful moment, I thank the fly that sat on the horse's nose and he instinctively shook his head," Jakub Gojda.

Highly Commended: Chloe Beck, "Hugo the Photobomber," Walsall, UK

© Chloe Beck/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is my best friend Faith, her husband Alex, and their cheeky Sproodle, Hugo. Faith wanted a photograph to mark a special occasion—her first outing after shielding at home for 14 months. Hugo jumped into the frame at just the right moment!" Chloe Beck.

Highly Commended: Luke O'Brien, "Mumford and Chum," Coventry, UK

© Luke O'Brien/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"Losing the opportunity to play with my human bandmates during lockdown, Flint, my rescue dog, soon taught me that we didn't just have sharp bones in common, but musical ones, too. He soon became the perfect substitute for a collaborative stomp up at home, so much so that we felt we deserved our own band name (Muttford and Chum). With my camera set up remotely during this shoot, I think it's fair to say that the image is proof that his conviction as a performer matches my own," Luke O'Brien.

Highly Commended: Kathryn Clark, "Wine Time," Clichester, UK

© Kathryn Clark/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"It's that time of day again! Little Blue enjoys it almost as much as me," Kathryn Clark.

Highly Commended: Diana Jill Mehner, "Crazy in Love with Fall," Paderborn, Germany

© Diana Jill Mehner/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

This is Leia. As you can see, she definitely loves playing with all the leaves in autumn. It was really tricky to take this picture because you never know what the dog is going to do next," Diana Jill Mehner.

Highly Commended: Christine Johnson, "Boing," Crosby Beach, UK

© Christine Johnson/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I was busy playing with my dog on the beach and this dog came to play. I liked the shapes he was making in the air," Christine Johnson

Highly Commended: Manel Subirats Ferrer, "Ostrich Style," Platja del Prat de Llobregat, Spain

© Manel Subirats Ferrer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Nuka playing hide and seek at the beach.

Highly Commended: Colin Doyle, "Nosey Nieghbor," Bromsgrove, UK

© Colin Doyle/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"According to Ozzy, we need a new fence panel ASAP. He is fed up with Chester our nosy next door neighbor spying on him every time he has a meal," Colin Doyle.

Highly Commended: Corey Seeman, "A Warm Spot on a Cold Day," Michigan

© Corey Seeman/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Two of the morning regulars at the dog park are Gary (hound mix with the jacket) and Kona, one of the most chill dogs ever," Corey Seeman.

Highly Commended: Lucy Slater, "So What?" San Diego, California

© Lucy Slater/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is how I like to sit!" Vincent the cat.

Highly Commended: Mollie Cheary, "Photobomb," Poole, UK

© Mollie Cheary/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Bailey was so excited to see her friends, she couldn't sit still for a photo!" Mollie Cheary.

via PixaBay and PixaBay

A cat sitting funny and a happy pug.

When my old dog Murray really wanted to tell me something and his barking or pawing didn’t get the job done, he would start making sounds that I swear mimicked human speech. Now, I’m not entirely sure that he was attempting to get through to me as a member of my own species would, but I don’t know how else to explain this quirky behavior.

It’s pretty amazing when we see our pets cross the imaginary line that separates the species by exhibiting human-like behaviors. But if you were to try to explain them to someone who’s never had a dog or cat (or parrot you will soon see) most of them would probably just shrug it off.

So, I never really talked to anyone about my dog’s strange but funny human impersonation.

Reddit user DMLorance created a safe space for pet owners to share their stories that no one believes on the AskReddit subforum.

“Pet owners of Reddit. What quirk does your pet (past or present) do that nobody believes when you tell them?”

Here are 16 of the best responses.


Keep Reading Show less