'Think Globally, Act Locally'
This old adage comes to my mind when I think about being one of the Team Captains for the McLean County Diversity Project. While it is a pretty simple slogan, have you ever wondered what it looks like in practice?
Often associated with the environment, a broader interpretation adopted by the Project is the practice of taking big ideas and turning them into real life experiences at the community level.
Every year, the Project’s mission calls upon the Scholars and Team Captains to grapple with topics that are global in nature - discrimination and acceptance, to name just a couple - through interactions with thoughtfully selected people from within our community; coupled with service projects designed to create hands-on experiences focused upon diversity.
In acting locally, the Scholars in the Project develop an ability to understand larger issues, events and history through the eyes of their community, next door neighbors or even classmates. They not only discuss and debate issues with others, but ‘walk the talk’ by being actively engaged in the world around them.
Their actions are measurable, genuine and exampled. It's powerful stuff.
This is a group of people that I want to be associated with.
I, too, strive to ‘walk the talk’ and I can tell you from my experiences with other Team Captains plus numerous people who have been a part of the Project and quite a few community partners - that I am not alone.
With all of that said, you may still be wondering what it actually looks like in practice.
In the past 12 years, the Project has included hundreds of Scholars who have worked on (and completed) literally hundreds of community service projects. The Scholars are building ramps with AMBUCS, doing the Polar Plunge for charity and countless other types of really neat and worthwhile projects - things that matter.
The Project has always set its eyes on a culminating annual trip and done so to nine locations ranging from the bustling streets of New York City, to the wilderness of the Smoky Mountains and the serenity of Yellowstone National Park.
The Project has branched out to allow the Scholars and young adults throughout McLean County, Illinois an opportunity to experience a whole new kind of challenge, while bringing relevant contemporary and historical issues to life on the stage at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.
I always heard about ‘thinking globally and acting locally’. For the past seven years I have been a Team Captain and have come to understand what that looks like in practice.
It truly has been my privilege to be around others who are so motivated to learn and do so much to experience and interact with diversity.
- John 'Jeremiah' Bierbaum
Six Year Veteran Team Captain
John Bierbaum is in his eigth year teaching at Normal Community West H.S. During his career, he has taught U.S. history, World History, and Sociology. He is currently the Mock Trial Coach and a director for the Freshmen Mentoring Program. Recently, he completed his M.S. in History at Illinois State University. John and his wife Jennifer, a teacher in the El Paso School District, have two children.