The New Sun

Michael Douglas
Discusses the Global Nomads Network
A group dedicated to connecting kids across cultures

Michael Douglas reveals, on ABC Television's "This Week with George Stephanoupolos," how high school students from around the world are talking with each other.

To watch the video of the interview:
To learn more about the Global Nomads Network:

ABC News: Could you explain the Global Nomads Network, and describe for someone at home who may not know what they do?

Michael Douglas: Global Nomads Network is a video conferencing non-profit process in which high school students in the U.S. have an opportunity to talk with high school-aged children around the world, and as a result it's an opportunity for them to understand each other better — and not have the political channels you normally go through but be able to see people face to face.

ABC: How did you initially hear about them and what inspired you to get involved?
MD: I thought it was such an ingenious idea, and so simple with the kind of video conferencing abilities we have today. When I saw a demonstration and the ability of someone like myself who can bring a little attention to a subject — in my case it's disarmament — and saw all the multiple screens, all the different high schools around the states who were available — and at this time we were talking Rwanda students in 2004 on the 10th anniversary of the genocide that happened - and see American kids begin to understand and comprehend a little better, other cultures and other kids their age. We're a unique country. It's tremendously large but surprisingly ignorant of a lot of things that go on outside of our own borders.

For instance, you have two thirds of high school kids you can't tell who where Iraq is on a map, seventy-five percent who can't find Israel on a map, and only twenty percent, 2 out of 10, I'm talking up to twenty-four years of age, don't even have a passport.

I think Global Nomads Network is a great opportunity for us to understand how each others' cultures work.

ABC: Let's talk a little bit about what you think student's gain from participating in these sort of town hall videoconferences?
MD: Well I think so much of what we hear about world politics is through our own press, or through our own religion, or our own point of view, and when kids have a chance to actually face, on camera, children from other places in the world, they have a much better understanding of what's going on. For instance, the Global Nomads Network program this year is tied in with a boat program called "Semester at Sea," which is when a boat takes 100 days to travel around the world, and Global Nomads Network are going to be there and they're going to talk about religion. They'll base it out of Brazil but talk about Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and to help kids understand different types of religion. So I think with the debacles we've been having in our own world policy, our America policy right now, that this is an opportunity for kids to have a better sense of what the truth really is, and not have it censored or cyphened through the media.

ABC: So it's a unique opportunity for them to sort of meet kids they wouldn't be exposed to otherwise?
MD: Absolutely. It's an opportunity...for instance; one of the first programs was in 2003 with Iraqi students. It was actually about two weeks before the invasion. It gave a chance for Americans students to be able to look eye-to-eye and begin to understand more clearly Iraqis as human beings, as students, and to our culture — it's what's leads us around the world, and people are infatuated with the United States. They admire us in so many ways, but our foreign policy confuses people. So this is an opportunity for them to be able to look directly in the eye of other kids, debate issues, talk about things but understand each other, and have a better understanding of the world as a whole, rather than just as the United States being a superior power. have a better sense of what the truth really is, and not have it censored or siphoned through the media.

ABC: So it's sort of like an advanced pen pal.
MD: Yeah, it's sort of like having an advanced pen pal, exactly. It's exciting to see and it puts a lot of young people on their best behavior because they're not speaking to their internal peers in the U.S., they're speaking to a world audience and I find it's much easier for them to listen than in other situations.

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To watch the video of the interview:
To learn more about the Global Nomads Network: