|By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 5:26 pm: Edit Post|
bone.jpg (17264 bytes)This spring, McDougal Elementary and Middle Schools in Chapel Hill hosted a very interesting visitor. He came baring first-hand stories and greetings from McDougal Middle School’s partner library in Malawi. His name was Eric Bone, and he was a teacher for two years with Peace Corps in Malawi. Through slides, artifacts and personal stories, he gave McDougal students a glimpse of how children live in Southern Africa. He described teaching classes of 70-100 students in a school without electricity, running water, textbooks or even enough chairs. Most of his students rose at 4:00 AM and walked 5-7 miles each way to get to school. Many had little or nothing to eat all day. Only 1 out of 1000 will go on to college.
Despite these hard conditions, Mr. Bone was quick to point out that students in Malawi share interests with students in America. They enjoy playing games such as soccer and spending time with their friends. Perhaps above all, they are curious about life in other countries. Mr. Bone said that receiving letters from students at McDougal Middle School was the high point in the school year for many Malawians. They look forward to new exchange projects that will make school more exciting.
In addition to strengthening the link between McDougal Middle School and its partner in Malawi, Eric Bone’s visit launched a new library partnership between McDougal Elementary School and Khombe Primary School in Malawi. Now McDougal students can participate in exchange projects with Malawi for many years. To follow up on Mr. Bone’s visit, librarian Nancy Margolin set up a table about Malawi at the elementary school’s spring festival. This year's festival had a component called "Windows on the World" that exposed students to information about four continents. At her table, Ms. Margolin set up a computer showing a web site about a student exchange project with Malawi, along with books and materials about Africa and pictures from Khombe Primary School. She also invited students and parents to create a large "open letter" with drawings and messages for children in Khombe. During the festival, she discovered that one of the parents served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi and invited him to speak with classes in the fall.
At the end of the school year, Ms. Margolin sent a package of materials to Khombe. It contained the open letter and pictures of the students who created it; new copies of the 12 most popular children's books in the elementary school library (with explanations about why American kids enjoy them); school supplies such as colored markers and pencils that are difficult to get in Malawi; a laminated world map, calculator, puzzles and other teaching aids. Ms. Margolin also sent a separate letter of introduction to the school in Khombe since the package may take as long as six months to arrive. Funding for some of the materials and postage was supplied by the PTA. This partnership was made possible by a grant from the Global Fund for Children.