Partnership is not a posture but a process - a continuous process that grows stronger each year as we devote ourselves to common tasks. (John F. Kennedy)
Have you ever tried to accomplish something alone and lost drive, motivation or energy? Have you ever lacked courage and wished for reassurance? Have you ever needed to know someone else was in your corner, overcoming similar obstacles and willing you on? Once we realise that so many of our missions are interlinked and have the ability to compliment each other, our true power will be unleashed.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are a call to action to every country around the world, encouraging them to solve societal and environmental problems from poverty to climate change. The goals acknowledge that all efforts to do so must go hand-in-hand; that one cannot be solved in isolation from another. The United Nations in its very name stresses the importance of a unified approach to solving global issues.
In today’s world, global partnerships have never been more possible and genuine connections and unity never more important. With technology advancing faster than we could imagine, our potential networks and possible impact is greater than ever before. As Bill Gates said, “The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”.
Achievement of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly that of providing Quality Education (SDG4), is at the core of everything I do both professionally and personally.
I am extremely fortunate to have aligned with several individuals and organisations with similar overarching goals that have enabled this mission to become a reality. The first such alignment came when I was working as an international primary educator in Abu Dhabi and was eager to bring knowledge of the SDGs to a cohort of students I was teaching. As this is not a formal part of many curriculums, I needed to find a programme that was both accessible and informative on this subject. When I found Orenda Learning and the Be the Change programme, I was blown away not only by the quality and depth of the online programme but also by the passion and drive of its founder, Alice Whitehead. In speaking more with this powerhouse of an individual, it was wildly apparent that both Alice and the incredibly inspiring Orenda Learning team had a vision and mission very much aligned to my own. Each individual truly practiced what they preached, with everyone working on various service endeavors to better the world. Becoming an Orenda Learning team member not only gave me the tools to accomplish my SDG4 mission but also the renewed strength of spirit to take my dream to new heights.
Working with Orenda Learning also introduced me to the Global Citizenship Collective (GCC), a “group of global citizenship educators from a variety of disciplines encouraging any school or institute to propel themselves forward and enhance global citizenship literacy and competency.” GCC brings theory to life as they take action to make positive impacts, increasing the effectiveness of global citizens while having positive impacts on people and the planet. When I started ulemu.com's "School in an Envelope", an education project that delivers low-cost, easy-to-use teaching materials and teacher-training to Malawian preschools, being a part of the Orenda Learning team not only provided motivation but also a wonderful wealth of expertise and learning. It was through growing networks for Ulemu.com that I realised we were unknowingly achieving another of the SDGs, partnerships for the goals. In a strange but sweet paradox, in achieving this “global village” network and bringing quality education to rural communities in Malawi, it became apparent that our biggest believers and supporters were coming from our own local Irish village. This person to person support and backing on an individual level has led to 100% transparency in interactions and in both villages seeing the mutual benefits of being connected.
At Orenda Learning we place a strong emphasis on partnerships and intentionally devote much of our time to building relationships with people and organisations that are focused on the SDG’s. In 2018 when Alice founded Orenda Learning one of her visions was that the company would unite individuals passionate about service and positive global change under a collective brand. This led to a series of conversations with d’Arcy Lunn, Founder of Teaspoons of Change and now Group Head of Sustainability and Global Citizenship for the Education in Motion group who had a similar vision for an organisation and, after several more conversations with other global citizenship educators from around the world, the Global Citizenship Collective (GCC) was formed. The group meets monthly, with the objective to network, support and share resources. We believe that collaboration is the new competition and know that we offer more together than separately. d’Arcy Lunn says; “Partnerships For The Goals is where we can not only come together around the blueprint and ambitions of the UN SDGs but it is also an opportunity to change the way we do business and life! Instead of the tired and well tested model of competition I see collaboration and partnership as the new way for everyone to succeed - people, planet and profit. Let's be united and collaborate for mutual benefit and maximum impact! We will see what happens using this approach and at the Global Citizenship Collective it has proved itself already…”
Within the GCC is Little Planet, an experiential learning provider with over a decade of experience in providing quality outdoor education programs to schools around the world. Orenda Learning has formed a strategic partnership with Little Planet who has recently launched ‘Involved’. Involved is “interactive programming that is designed primarily for students who are passionate about global citizenship and interested in critically exploring what service and meaningful engagement means in today’s interconnected world.” Schools that sign up for Involved will have the opportunity to develop a bespoke service program with Little Planet that includes access to Be The Change and engagement with people on the ground at one of Little Planet’s various selected partner organisations (not for profit’s or NGO’s). The partnership aims to build on expertise and resources from all organisations involved in order to provide high quality, meaningful experiences in service to young people and impactful support to stakeholders in the community.
In addition to the relationship with Little Planet, Orenda Learning has also established partnerships with Gaia Learning, Juara Turtle Project, MAD Courses and Home Education Association (see below). With more quality collaborations like this, our chances of making genuine progress across the goals are far more realistic. In fact, I think it's the only way it's possible.
American teacher and Challenger astronaut, Christa McAuliffe had a vision of a world as a global village, a world without boundaries. I feel there is undeniable strength in numbers and if we can harness this strength for good, for interconnectedness and for service, this world will be a better place for everyone in it.
More about our partners:
Gaia Learning offers online education programs and classes across a range of subjects. Gaia Learning hosts Be The Change Independent and consultants from Orenda Learning offer coaching to guide students through the program.
Juara Turtle Project is a community-based marine conservation organisation located on Tioman Island, off the south east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Orenda Learning offers the project guidance and support with their service programs.
MAD Courses partners with schools, universities and organisations to provide courses that catalyse positive social impact. Orenda Learning and MAD have a long standing collaborative agreement and are able to partner on the creation of bespoke service engagements for young people.
Home Education Association is the national not-for-profit, incorporated membership association serving Australian homeschoolers. Orenda Learning offers HEA members a discount for Be The Change Independent and HEA supports the visibility of the program within their network.