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IB Program Aims to Form 'Students of the World'

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

The International Baccalaureate Organization was founded in nineteen sixty-eight. It works with schools in one hundred forty-three countries to offer programs for students age three to nineteen. These programs, it says, "help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world."

The organization says IB programs are in more than three thousand schools. The majority of these schools offer IB diploma programs.

High school students have to complete six courses, pass exams and write a twenty-page paper to earn an IB diploma. The courses are in humanities, science, arts, math, a second language and their own language.

Students can also attend special events. Recently more than three hundred IB diploma students from thirteen countries attended a conference at the University of British Columbia in Canada. The five-day conference was called "The New Sustainability: Making Things Better, Not Just Less Bad."

The students heard from professors, graduate students, activists and others. One of the speakers was Drew Deutsch, director of IB Americas. He says the conference was meant as a way for students not only to learn about the environment, but also to develop lasting relationships.

DREW DEUTSCH: "We want to send the students back to their schools to highlight issues surrounding protecting the environment, but also make sure these students become more students of the world, and that they form bonds with peers their own age from around the world. And, obviously, with social networking and the tools that are available to students today, we expect that they will have formed these bonds really for life."

Seventeen-year-old Itzel Chavez is a student at the International School of Beaverton, in the American state of Oregon. She was one of twenty-one IB students who received scholarships to be able to attend the conference.

ITZEL CHAVEZ: "I really wanted to go. So I applied for a scholarship and I had to write an essay. And in my school they chose one person, and I got chosen for the scholarship. So I got to go."

She says the main speakers would describe a sustainability program or tell how a special project improved the environment in their community. Then the students had to choose a project to present to the conference.

ITZEL CHAVEZ: "We would get into groups of about nineteen or twenty students and we would have to come up with a project for the end of the week that showed what we learned."

Itzel worked on a video. It asked students three questions about sustainability and how they would make it happen in their own communities. After showing it, the members of the group went on stage to tell what they themselves would do to protect the environment.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. To read and listen to more stories for people learning English, go to I'm Jim Tedder.