Monday, January 16, 2012

Seeing Far and Near

When I recently returned to school after Winter Break, I found an airmail envelope in my mailbox from the Traveling Teacher, of whom I have previously written. She had graciously sent me some Vietnamese and Cambodian money to show the girls in the Lower School. During Morning Meeting one day, we looked at the money and made predictions as to what 8000 Vietnamese Dong could buy. The guesses ranged from an iPad to a trip to Vietnam. The looks on their faces were priceless as we discovered that the equivalent in US dollars is about 39 cents! The girls were truly amazed.

As each grade came to my class later that week, we followed up on our Morning Meeting conversation by looking at the videos made, under the guidance of the Traveling Teacher, by a group of Cambodian students. In her blog she shares the story of how the videos were produced. The final products are so well done. It just amazes me what these students were able to do with a minimal amount of equipment.

The best part of the experience of watching these videos, however, was the reaction of my students, some as young as 6 years old. They watched with quiet awe as the lives of the Cambodian students were reveled through the videos. They were immediately struck by the many differences between the lives of these students and their own lives here in the US. Comments ranged from "she has to do a lot of the things that my parents do, like cook dinner and buy groceries" to "her house doesn't have electricity." But in addition to noticing the differences, they also noted several similarities...going school, doing homework, working on computers, and a fondness for Mickey Mouse.

A couple of groups viewed the water wells video and were so affected by what they saw, they now want to talk to the head of the lower school about what we can do to help the people of Cambodia. I am so grateful to the Traveling Teacher for helping bring my students closer to a part of the world that is so far and so different from our world in so many ways. It is wonderful to see such wisdom, concern, and compassion in even our youngest of students.


  1. This post gives me goosebumps, Chris. You must have been so proud of those students - it's easier to spot the ways we're different than ways we're similar, but your students saw the humanity, the things we share. It's a wonderful example too, of the impact of media and the power of the story told simply. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Renee, you are so right. I was humbled by the insight that these girls brought to our viewing of these videos. Their feelings and comments were their own; I was able to be the quiet observer of their reactions and discussions. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from them!