Patricia Woel and Leila

Traveling the World in Class

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Thursday June 27, 2013

Over the course of the school year Project LEAP of F.H. Tuttle Middle School had seven guest speakers from all around the world.  Frank Woitera from Uganda told us stories about the hardships kids endured in his country.  Kids have to walk for 2 – 3 hours to get to school each day, parents often die of AIDS and clean water is hard to come by. Yet children did not complain about their life and most are actually happy.  Visiting high school students from Germany showed us a video on how Germans perceived Americans as loving junk food and being overweight.  

Vietnam was mostly known as the country we went to war for during the 1960’s, but after the presentation by Victor Pinga, father of Andie from Project LEAP, students came to know that Vietnam was more than a war torn country.  They learned of the rising mountains of Sapa, they listened to traditional music, and learned how houses were uniquely built so that people could pay fewer taxes.

We were all intrigued with Chinatown in New York City and the hardworking people who live there after Cheung Wong’s presentation.  Mr. Wong who is Ann’s dad, gave each of us a red envelope that children receive during the Chinese New Year.  The Team also learned about the harsh journey of the Chinese immigrants that came to America during the last century.
Next stop was Haiti.  Megan Brook, our teammate Chenoa Olinger’s mother, talked to us about a program she works for called Volunteers for Peace.  Volunteers go to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, to teach the schools how to install water filters to make the water drinkable.  They also teach the people other skills such as gardening.  Another parent of a Project LEAP student, Patricia Woel talked about growing up in Haiti and adopting Leila.  She told us about the severe poverty in her country and about how the children there are always smiling.  

Not many people know where Kazakhstan is located or have even heard of this country.  Project LEAP teacher, Debra Paul spent two weeks there in April as part of the Teachers for Global Classrooms, a program sponsored by the State Department in Washington, D.C.  She learned many things about their school system, how the Kazakh people were rebuilding from the period of when they were part of the former Soviet Union, and about how important education is to the children there.  So much so, that they go to school six days a week!  Four Project LEAP students signed up to be penpals and are in the process of writing back to students there.  

These speakers have been a great learning experience for all of us.  We would like to end with a quote from one of our peers on Project LEAP, Kailey Yang.  She said, “I think that our team is very lucky to have a variety of cultures on Project LEAP.  The presentations have helped us learn about life around the world and how fortunate we are compared to other countries.”

SOURCE: Andie Pinga and Claire Le Duc, 6th grade students from F.H. Tuttle Middle School