Gary Rhodes: Going for the Gold in Global Understanding

The director of the Center for Global Education is creating ways for athletes to inspire youth on and off the field.

Gary Rhodes, director of the Center for Global Education (CGE) at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA, traveled to London for the Olympic Games and to present “Connecting Sport, Education, Development of Youth and International Relations” at the International Pierre de Coubertin Olympic Symposium on “Olympism, Olympic Education and Learning Legacies.” The symposium, which was held at Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury, England, focuses on the wide range of educational opportunities for an Olympic host city. Participants will be looking at London 2012 and beyond in relation to Coubertin’s vision as the founder of the modern Olympic Games. Topics at the symposium are focused on the wide range of educational opportunities for athletes and for organizations that support high-profile athletic events. Presentations about Coubertin’s vision, values, and ideals on Olympism and their relevance for the future will be central to the symposium.

Rhodes sees the London 2012 Olympics as an opportunity to support the broader development of the participating athletes, as well as an opportunity for athletes to focus on international understanding and to support youth development beyond athletic competitions.  He is concerned that athletes may be pushed only to compete athletically and are not adequately prepared for the cross-cultural challenges involved in making more of their experience at the London 2012 Olympics or when they travel to other countries. They have opportunities to connect with athletes from around the globe, and to build that connection to international understanding and youth development abroad and at home.

The CGE has developed an online resource to provide additional content to athletes that can help them go beyond their sport. The purpose is to and find new ways for them to connect to other athletes and to support international understanding, youth development and giving to others.. The Website, WorldWiseAthlete.com will be first released during the London Olympics, with information to aid in cross-cultural awareness and global understanding, and opportunities for volunteerism.

“We are taking the work the Center for Global Education has done with U.S. study abroad students and international students studying in the U.S. and linking that to international learning, global understanding, and youth development, and with the opportunities that athletes at the Olympics and other athletes at high-profile events have to make a positive impact on others beyond the competition for Gold, Silver, and Bronze [medals],” says Rhodes. “WorldWiseAthlete.com has been started for the 2012 Olympic Games, but we plan to expand the content of the resource following the London Olympics.”

While in London, Rhodes, who oversees the California Community College Student Outcomes Abroad Research (CCC SOAR) Project, will be interviewing current California Community College study abroad faculty, staff, and students on the impact of their international learning and its connection to their retention and success in college.

Pictured above: Gary Rhodes, director of the Center for Global Education (at right), with Antoine de Navacelle, great-nephew of Baron Pierre de Coubertin and member of the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee show off an Olympic Torch following Rhodes’ presentation at Canterbury Christ Church University.

Courtesy of Gary Rhodes