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Extreme Global Makeover by Yolanda Betances
Overview Prodecures for Teachers Organizers for Students
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Procedures for Teachers


The following activities will help students to identify the new patterns and challenges of modernization in the 21st century. Students will understand the concept of the global village and how technology has fueled trade and economic growth today. Students will define the term modernization.

  1. Provide a "hook" to start a brief discussion. On the blackboard/whiteboard write the two statements below:

    • Computers, cell phones, and other technology make life easier and foster communication worldwide.

    • Computers, cell phones, and other technology make for a more demanding lifestyle and for fewer human interactions.

    Ask students which statement they agree with more and why. (Students answers may vary based on their opinions: technology such as cell phones and the Internet allow for easier, faster communication; you can shop, download music, play games, travel more quickly, etc.) Ask students what types of technology they rely upon and enjoy using. (Some students may answer how they use text messaging and cell phones to keep up with friends and family; use the Internet to find information for school work or other uses easily and quickly, or to download music, play video games, and watch movies) Ask how today's technologies have changed their daily lives. (Some students may discuss the types of technology they use every day (i.e. cell phones, computer, the Internet, text messaging, IPod, flat screen TVs, etc.) Ask students where many of these products that they purchase come from today. (China, Japan, India, etc.)

  2. Ask students to create a working definition for modernization. They should think about what it means for them to live in a modern world (Students may suggest modernization has to do with advanced technology and innovation; the growth of cities; development of new industries; increased commerce and communication with others worldwide; rapid cultural or societal changes; new concepts, or ideas). Come up with a definition as a class and write it on the board. Ask students to think about how modernization might affect the movement of people. (People move to cities for job opportunities; or move due to the pressures of population growth, the need for more adequate housing, need for more schools and other services, etc.)

  3. Inform students that technological advances have created a more global society -- a global village -- interconnected through commerce and trade. Governments decide how best to meet the needs and wants of their nation -- sometimes this may involve strict controls over commerce and trade, while other times nations may allow for a free enterprise system. Business transactions can be done quickly via computer technology and items can be delivered around the world in short amounts of time. In industries involving manufacturing, the movement of goods and services has risen tremendously.

  4. Ask students to check the label of the shirt they are currently wearing (where was the product made?) Students may ask a fellow student for help. (Students may answer Taiwan, Vietnam, China, the Dominican Republic, India, Mexico, etc.) Ask students why this clothing may have been manufactured in another country? How did it get to the store were they bought the shirt? How much did they pay for the shirt? How much do you think the person who sewed it was paid? (Students answers may vary; basically students may identify how many of the clothing items -- and even other products they use -- are made in other parts of the world; they may say how these products are made in other areas, because workers in those countries will be paid less than worker in the United States; manufacturing companies cut costs by moving production overseas or across the border)

  5. Ask the students if they think modernization might bring new opportunities for some and not for others. Then have the students brainstorm ideas in response to the following questions, writing their ideas in their notebooks or journals:

    • What problems/issues may come up because of modernization?

    • What responsibility do wealthy citizens have to the poor in their own countries?

    (Student answers may vary. Some students may see patterns: ethnic tensions; changes in traditional roles and values; challenges to trying to balance modernization and traditional life; widening of gap between rich and poor; inequity based on race and/ class; students may believe that people should be able to take care of themselves; some students may feel that modernization contributes to widening the gap between rich and poor and should be minimized; help should be provided to assist poorer segment of society to transform their lives for the better)


  1. Explain that to understand the changes that modernization brings, the students will be examining primary and secondary sources from several different countries.

  2. Provide students with a brief introduction to China: have students locate China on the classroom/lab map or globe, and discuss why China has adopted capitalistic economic practices and is now willing to engage in joint ventures with American and other foreign corporations. Students will probably need to be reminded of the economic history of Communist China from 1949 and after the death of Mao in 1976. Inform students that China has now joined the WTO (World Trade Organization). Provide a brief introduction on WTO.

  3. New Worker Class
    Photo of Dwanzhi She in his new apartment.
    Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to identify the name of the worker type that describes Dwanzhi She. How would they describe this type of worker? PLAY Clip 1, "New Worker Class," for the class. Review the focus question with the students. (Dwanzhi She is a "gold collar" worker; he makes nearly $60,000 a year; he is a manager of a foreign-owned company and has enough money for a new apartment in an upscale area of Beijing.) REPLAY Clip 1 to check for comprehension, if necessary. Ask students what opportunities and advantages Dwanzhi She seems to have in Beijing (He works for company that does business with foreign companies. He is highly educated; he speaks English; he just bought a larger, more modern apartment for his family).

  4. Tell students that Dwanzhi She's viewpoint is just one side of the story of life in Beijing. He considers himself quite the success story in the new China. He will get his MTV and HBO! Yet, for most people in China the story is very different. China has a population of 1.3 billion people, and of these an estimated 900 million are peasant farmers. Tell them that a new migration is taking place in China -- the greatest migration in modern history. Ask students in pairs to log on to BUSINESS WEEK, "The Great Migration" (int'l edition) at http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_50/b3711018.htm. Here, students will be asked to read the document and find out about this major shift in China's rural population. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION: in their notebooks or journals, have them:

    • Identify five facts about China's migration;

    • Explain why this migration is happening now;

    • List possible problems the migration might create.

    Review some of the answers as a class. (Move to the cities in search for work; cannot make a living on farms; China is concentrating on manufacturing; opening of trade; problems could be overpopulation of cities and lack of resources)

  1. Explain that while rural people in China have viable reasons for moving to modern cities, in most cases the Chinese government considers it to be illegal to move from the countryside to the city. In China, people must be registered in their province of birth. This is called hukou and involves a registration of residency. It is extremely difficult to get permission to move and register in another area. Thus, migrants who move to cities in search of work do so illegally.

  2. Migrant Workers
    Photo of a Chinese migrant construction worker.
    Tell students that we will now look at this other side of life in Beijing. Provide your students for a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to identify what type of job(s) they see these workers doing and what life is like for these people. Ask them to jot down the evidence of what they see in their notebook/journal. PLAY Clip 2, "Migrant Workers," for the class. Ask students to "turn and talk" with a partner about what they saw and their thoughts on the lives of migrants. Then ask a few students to report back on what they discussed with their "turn and talk" partner. (Students saw construction jobs and a husband and wife working and living in a construction site in conditions of poverty. The couple is separated from their child and miss him/her and their village). Ask students to compare this view on life in Beijing to the life Dwanzhi She is leading in the same city. (Dwanzhi She is wealthy, part of an upper class, and benefiting from China's new trade policies, while migrant workers earn very little and do jobs that seem to endanger their health.)

  3. Tell students that illegal migrants are found all over major cities of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Guangzhou. Explain that the students will be investigating the lives of migrants who move to these modern cities. Students will complete Student Organizer #1: "The Invisible People" for the segments they have just seen from "To Have and Have Not." Distribute Student Organizer #1 to the class. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to log on to these Web sites and answer the questions posed on their organizer:

    Allow approximately 30 minutes for this activity, and continue the activity the following day, if needed.

(End of Day One of the lesson)
  1. Remind students what they have learned thus far about modernization: it may come in different forms and bring different advantages and disadvantages to different people. Tell them that migration is also an issue in India, as many people move to the cities in search of economic opportunities. Have students locate India on the classroom/lab map or globe.

  2. Provide students with some background: explain what BPO stands for (Business Process Outsourcing); and explain that the economic transformation India has been experiencing in the last five-ten years due to the growth of outsourcing industries has been quite noticeable. Include the fact that many foreign-based companies are interested in the services that the Indian workforce has to offer in the area of business and technology.

  3. Ask students to log on to the following two Web sites:

    Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them read the two texts and to identify evidence that India is growing economically and will continue to do so. Review student answers as a class.


  1. Transformed Workplaces
    Photo of female Indian BPO workers.
    Tell students that they will be seeing segments on the changes the BPO industry has brought forth on India. Distribute Student Organizer #2: "Trading Places" to the class. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to identify positive and negative effects in the lives of Renuka, Santosh, Ekta, and Satish Sehrawat. (Note: Tell students that they may see evidence of positive or negative effects and changes, or both positive and negative effects for any given person.) PLAY Clip 3, "Transformed Workplaces," for the class. Check for comprehension. (Renuka, a former doctor, is now a leader in the mortgage sector of GECIS. She makes more money here than as a doctor; she has developed more confidence as a speaker and leads a team of people; she helps other team members. Santosh, who works with Renuka, is learning new skills, learning English, and developing more confidence.)

  2. Shopping Culture
    Photo of shoes in a shoe store in India.
    PLAY Clip 4, "Shopping Culture," for the class. Check for comprehension. (In this segment there is evidence of new jobs being created in security, construction, and real estate, shopping malls, and restaurants. Ekta -- a manager at a BPO -- is a part of this growing independent class. She has more disposable income and is shown shopping; she talks about her feelings of independence and being able to choose how and where to spend her own money that she earned.)

  3. Night Transport
    Photo of BPO cabs in India.
    PLAY Clip 5, "Night Transport," for the class. (Here women are shown needing to work during late-night shifts. The need for safe and reliable transportation for workers, especially women, had to be arranged. One man, Satish Sehrawat is a success story. Satish started off with one car and he built a car service for the BPO. Satish talks about his fleet of cars and his large staff).

Allow for 30-35 minutes for this activity (including discussion time at the end). REPLAY each segment to check for comprehension, as needed.


  1. Have an informal debate on the issue of modernization:

    • How do the transformations of modernization (including becoming more involved in the global economy) benefit societies, groups, or individuals?

    • How do the transformations of modernization (including becoming more involved in the global economy) create negative repercussions for societies, groups, or individuals?

Refer to the evidence that has been viewed and read throughout this lesson based on China and India. Allow for 25 minutes (or more) for this activity.


Ask the students to write a well-organized essay that addresses the theme of modernization. Include an introduction with a thesis statement, several paragraphs, and a conclusion. The essay may be assigned as homework. It should address the following:

  • Define modernization and discuss to what degree it affects societies, groups, and individuals.

  • Based on your study of China and India, provide a specific historical example of the influence of modernization on the development of each nation.

  • Describe the positive and negative effects of modernization on people living in each nation.


Language Arts

  • Read the article "A New India" by India's prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who offers his point of view on India's new global era. This article, available at http://www.ibef.org/artdisplay.aspx?cat_id=84&art_id=6160, first appeared in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL on May 19, 2005. Write an editorial to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL as a response.

  • Research the health problems experienced by migrant workers and write a report for your school paper. Check out China Labour's Web site, at http://www.china-labour.org.hk/public/contents/article?revision%5
    , as a start on the issue. Find out about how migrants may be subject to working conditions that affect their health and general well being. Investigate the effects of pesticides and other toxic materials on workers.

Social Studies

  • Investigate the issue of labor rights in China and the violation of human rights. The Web site China Labour Bulletin, at http://www.china-labour.org.hk/public/contents/
    , was founded in Hong Kong in 1994 by independent trade unionist Han Dongfang (who is featured and interviewed in "To Have and Have Not"). Han Dongfang also has a radio program (from Hong Kong) on Radio Free Asia that works to expose human rights violations committed against all types of workers in Mainland China. This Web site offers links to background information on labor rights, working conditions, imprisoned workers, and health and safety issues in China today. Research what rights are guaranteed through the Chinese constitution and what rights are not being respected (especially for workers). Write a letter to your local congressman about the need for protection of workers in China, as the United States does more business there. Research companies like Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and Citibank, and other companies currently doing business in China. Write a report on the pros and cons of modernization as the world becomes more global.

  • Have the students write a thematic essay that addresses the theme of industrialization. Assign the following:

      Historical Context:
      Since the 19th century, industrialization has had positive and negative effects on the lives of people.

      • Define the term industrialization.

      • Select one nation you have studied and discuss two specific examples of the ways in which industrialization changed the lives of workers in that nation.

      • Discuss the response of the workers, reformers, and/or government to these changes.

    You may use any nation from your study of Global History, except the United States.


Invite a labor activist to speak to the class.

Get in touch with group working with migrant workers. Invite the group to participate in a teach-in on human rights at your school.

Take a trip to Ellis Island (or another immigrant center/museum in your community) and find out more about early migrants.

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