Denise Ames (l) and Nancy Harmon (r)

Thoughts for 2018 …

I have reflected on the course of events that CGA has followed since its beginning in 2003. It started with my hope that my holistic approach and global perspective to global issues and world history would be something others would like to learn about. I have followed that mission from the beginning. With Nancy Harmon, and others, CGA has evolved to a non-profit that is reaching thousands of people in the U.S. and around the world, and the potential to reach even more. I am ever grateful to all who have helped make this goal a reality and hopeful that our message of looking at the world from a holistic and global perspective is one whose time has come.

Kind Regards,
Denise Ames

The Story of the Center for Global Awareness

by Denise R. Ames

The Center for Global Awareness (CGA) officially started in June 2003, when my daughter, Mia, designed a simple website and it flashed onto the web for the first time. I started CGA after being inspired to expand my teaching and researching about globalization and global issues. I taught workshops about globalization and conscientious consumerism to groups of adults at a local organization in 2002. It went so well that I wanted to continue. Along with teaching at a community college, I expanded my workshops on the topic of globalization for the general public.

Denise with University of Tehran students, photo Denise Ames

After several years of teaching in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area and having many wonderful experiences, I decided that I would like to broaden my focus and draw upon my years of teaching experience and training. CGA took a turn in an additional direction. Starting in 2005, I conducted numerous workshops and classes around the country for educators in the areas of a holistic world history, globalization, and global awareness. I particularly enjoyed a week long globalization workshop for educators in Singapore in 2006.

Many teachers and others requested additional materials on the workshops I presented, in particular my holistic approach to world history. It was an approach I had been working on since my graduate work and teaching at Illinois State University in the 1990s, and in 2008 I decided it was about time to take up the challenge of writing Waves of Global Change: A Holistic World History. With some sadness, I taught my last semester at the community college in 2008 and started writing full time.

Writing was a little more difficult than I expected. The book took several re-writes and lots of close editing by others. It seemed I would never finish. In the meantime, I faced what seemed like the insurmountable challenge of deciding how to get my holistic world history and global issues series out to educators and others. There were several options that I explored. First, I pitched my idea of a holistic world history to publishers, along with the idea of a book series on significant global issues. I had interest and offers of publication for my holistic world history and for a global issues series, but not the two together. Second, I thought about starting my own non-profit organization and develop holistic, globally-focused educational resources for educators and students in grades 9-university. But that seemed like a big task for one person. However, little did I know that CGA was about ready to take a turn in another direction.

Workers in Germany, photo Denise Ames

As luck would have it, I reconnected with a friend I first met at a globalization study group in 2003: Nancy Harmon. We met again while serving on the board of directors of a local non-profit organization in Albuquerque in 2007. Nancy wrote a wonderful Peace curriculum for middle and high school students for the organization and I was asked to help with it. By the end of 2009, Nancy was ending her long and varied teaching career and temporarily heading to San Diego to help care for her elderly parents. However, she wanted a project to keep her connected to the educational community in some productive way. We met for dinner one cold December evening at a local Thai restaurant in Albuquerque. We talked non-stop about forming a partnership to write, publish and disseminate globally-focused educational materials. Nancy had an English background, my background was in social studies, and we both had a real interest in global issues, it was a perfect match!

Nancy and I wrote a detailed business plan, in which we determined it would be the best strategy to form our partnership as a non-profit organization. We immediately dove into filling out the long and complicated application process for a 501(c)(3) from the IRS. As with anything, it took a lot longer than expected! By May 2010 we finally mailed in the tome, expecting favorable response in a couple of months. In the meantime, we thought it would be best to continue writing and developing resources and books so that when we "launched" our new non-profit we would have resources available. Nancy worked on an International Folktales for the ESL classroom, and edited my books. I finished the holistic world history book and an educator's handbook for teaching a holistic world history. I then plunged into researching and writing two new books, one on the Global Economy and the other on the Financial Sector. In the meantime, we hired an experienced graphic designer to create a new website and format our books while we patiently waited for a response from the IRS. Once again, it took a lot longer than we expected.

When I went to the mailbox one day in September 2010 and found a letter from the IRS I assumed it would be a message reading, "congratulations you are now a member of the non-profit community." That was not the case. They wanted more information, lots of information. It took us awhile but finally we sent off a reply in November only to receive another request for more information in January 2011. By this time we were despondent, we didn't think we were going to be awarded non-profit status. But we forged ahead and got the reply in by February 2011. As the summer months passed and still no response from the IRS, we thought our application was doomed. We contemplated forming a for-profit business, but we didn't think that served our mission very well. Finally, on a crisp clear fall day in October 2011, I opened our acceptance letter from the IRS. I was stunned. Nancy couldn't believe it. We were now a non-profit.

Now that we were a non-profit organization we could barrel ahead with our elaborate plans for CGA. We hired a part-time assistant in November 2011, who helped launch CGA's new website and get us on social media sites. But it took a lot longer than we expected to get the website ready, the books written, edited, and produced, and teacher resources written. Delays and longer than expected projects set us back and dampened our enthusiasm. We toiled away for another full year on getting everything ready to go.

As a somewhat frustrating 2012 drew to a close, we thought 2013 looked more positive. June 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the Center for Global Awareness, and it seemed like we were making progress. We had finished five books that were available for sale through our website, we were making every other week blog postings on critical issues, we sent out periodic newsletters, and posted to CGA social media outlets. We had a hired a variety of independent contractors and assistants to help with our efforts. In the meantime, I was asked to travel to several countries—Iran, Turkey, and China—to learn about educational-related issues and thoroughly enjoyed the experiences.

The year 2014 was an exciting year for me. I had a change of pace from writing books. I traveled to Germany in July as a consultant with the Goethe Institute, developing a Cross-Cultural Understanding Teaching Unit for Educators on Germany, and to South Korea in November with the Academy of Korean Studies. Preparation and follow-up for the two trips took up much of my time as I prepared for my consulting project and completed a series of blogs and a lesson plan on South Korea.

2015 found me expanding my global awareness as a participant on an education tour to Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates sponsored by the Bilateral U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. I used this opportunity to write a lesson plan and blog on the area. The trip fit in nicely with the publication of our 7th book in 2016, Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System

After much reflection, we have decided to start a new program at CGA called GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection. GATHER is a conversation-based study program connecting small groups of concerned adults. Each group gathers together to enhance global awareness by studying and conversing about pressing global and cultural concerns. Using a unique four dimensional approach called SEEK—see, evolve, engage, and know—participants will be able to see different perspectives, evolve attitudes and skills to interact with those different from us, engage with others to bring about positive systemic change, and become more knowledgeable about pressing global and cultural issues. The purpose of GATHER is to make an effort to bridge social and cultural divides and create a world that is more compassionate, sustainable, and, pragmatic, and that respects the needs and values of all people.

Along with other projects, we spent most of 2016 preparing and planning for GATHER. Launch is set for early in 2018.

I have reflected on the course of events that CGA has followed over the years. It started out just me, with the hope that my holistic approach and global perspective to global issues and world history would be something others would like to learn about as well. I have followed that mission from the beginning. Partnering with Nancy and others has made the difference in bringing CGA from a one-person operation to a non-profit that is reaching many people in the U.S. and around the world and the potential to reach more. I am ever hopeful that our message of looking at the world from a holistic approach, global perspectives, and cross-cultural understanding is one whose time has come.