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Intercultural ed students are finalists in Minnesota Idea Open Challenge

2akiko.jpg1photo_paul - small.jpgCEHD graduate students Paul and Akiko Maeker are finalists in the Minnesota Idea Open Challenge for their proposal to bring fifth- and sixth-graders together with Minnesota leaders in intercultural dialogue. Sponsored by the Minnesota Community Foundation, the challenge competition called for ideas on working together across cultures and faiths. Online voting for the public begins May 15. Of the five finalists, three will be crowned champions and receive $15,000 awards.

The Maekers, doctoral students of intercultural and international education in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, created a kid-friendly format for generating ideas among youth and adults in a productive discussion about the future of Minnesota.

"The idea is to invite young people to brainstorm and generate questions to present to current Minnesota leaders -- political leaders, educational leaders, business leaders, religious leaders, and other cultural community leaders," said Paul. "Kids often say the most insightful things.

"I have children who are around this age and attending a diverse public school. I am a witness to them beginning to see themselves as part of a world that is larger and more complex," he said. "They are very adept at noticing differences among people and are in the developmental process of trying to figure out what these differences mean and how they should be evaluating them."

In the Maekers' proposal, selected fifth- and sixth-graders would have a day with participating leaders to directly ask questions. Then the leaders would respond to educate and inspire these future leaders. The collection of questions and answers would then be made into a book or video.

"Our University of Minnesota education played a large role in creating this idea," Paul said. "It inspired us to see the value in facilitating a dialogue to support both children and adults in thinking about the future and the effects that their decisions produce."

On your mobile phone, text FUTURE to 83224 to vote for the Maekers' idea.

See more on the Minnesota Idea Open Challenge here. And watch the Maekers' video below:

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