Together with a number of content partners, AFS is convening the AFS Global Conference under the topic “Global Competence: Our Future, Our Responsibility” in Budapest this September. Balázs Dezsényi of Teach For Hungary, an educational organization that focuses on social impact and cultivating leadership, is one of the distinguished speakers who will address hundreds of leaders from different sectors who will gather at the conference. We thank Balász for sharing his insights on global competence in this interview.

What role can civil society organizations and non-formal education play in supporting educators and learners in global competence development?

Global competence, in a nutshell, means caring about the world beyond your four walls. Making people care is one of the most challenging tasks around, because it requires you to care and share your passion. Civil organizations are incredibly helpful in bridging this gap: by involving people in field work, advocacy, and real-life stories, they show them the world as it is. This sparks curiosity, emotional connections, and inspiration for action.

Non-formal education helps students or life-long learners experience learning in a fresh, unconventional setting. Seeing a new side of learning, and involving different senses, themes, and skills provides people with the positive feedback they need to keep on learning. Their new experiences help them stay curious, stay open, and get active.


“Global competence is all about staying open, constantly improving yourself and learning from others. What better way to learn about global competence than by working, talking and thinking together in Budapest. I’d recommend the AFS Global Conference to anyone who wants to learn how to inspire the leaders of tomorrow and be inspired in return.”


What resources are required of different stakeholders—individually and together—to equip and support youth in becoming more globally competent?

Developing global competence requires patience and openness. Acknowledging different perspectives, understanding new concepts, and sharing your ideas are all scary at first for young people.

So educators need to take people step by step: they need to understand, reassure, and motivate their students to keep up their internal drive. Recognizing small victories, adapting activities to groups and individuals, and constant self-reflection are all necessary. This requires more listening than speaking, more improvisation than planned, and more flexibility than what is comfortable. But it is the only way to inspire real global competence.

Balázs Dezsényi leads the team of Teach For Hungary, an organization working to make all Hungarian children’s perspectives equally bright. He is a public policy graduate of Central European University in Budapest. He is actively involved in informal education, leading seminars on English and debating skills at an after-school academy for Budapest high-schoolers. He has interned with the Foundation for Democratic Youth, an organization aiming to promote youth advancement through youth service, democratic debate and professional development. He also served for five years as co-founder and president of the Debating Society of Hungary.