February 8, 2004 - Senaca County Advertiser-Tribune: Students learn of life in Senegal

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Senegal: Peace Corps Senegal : The Peace Corps in Senegal: February 8, 2004 - Senaca County Advertiser-Tribune: Students learn of life in Senegal

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Students learn of life in Senegal

Students learn of life in Senegal

Students learn of life in Senegal

By Cathy Willoughby, cwilloughby@advertiser-tribune.com

Exploring differences has brought a group of Tiffin schoolchildren closer to some of their counterparts in Africa.
Children in the Tiffin City Schools HEIGHTS program are writing to a school in Senegal, hoping to learn more about the lives of children there.

Teacher Dave Mowery said the third grade class in the program at Nobel Elementary has studied the African continent for several years. Last year, a representative from the Peace Corps contacted Mowery and asked if the class would like to correspond with one of their Corps workers.

"Last year we asked if he could hook us up with a school,'' Mowery said. The class received their first letter just before Christmas.

The village where the school is located has no electricity and has three different grade levels. It operates as a boarding school, where the children stay there during the week and go home to their families on weekends.

"We found out that most of the students are boys,'' he said. "Classes are divided up into 8- and 9-year-olds, 10 - and 11-year-olds and 12- and 13-year-olds.''

To correspond with them, letters are written asking the class in Senegal questions. The letter is then translated into French, a language all of the Senegal children know, and sent out. Although letters are supposed to take a week to arrive, Mowery said it seems much longer. Sending a message electronically is prohibitive, he discovered, after receiving an e-mail back from the school's instructor.

With no electricity, the instructor had to travel more than 80 miles to the country's capital city of Dakar to transmit a message back to Noble school.

To learn more about the country and to prepare for the celebration of the International Cultural Center at the Middle School, the students learned some "fast facts'' about Senegal. They are written on a banner that will be hung in the new center.

"Most of the land is lush and fertile,'' "The best time to travel is between November and March,'' "It's slightly smaller than South Dakota,'' and "There are 20 airports in the entire country,'' offered the students.

Each time they did another activity, the students received a stamp in their "passports.''

"It's fun to know what they do different from what we do,'' said Grant Gase, when asked why he likes learning about Senegal.

"What kind of chores they do,'' Tara Baker added.

"What their houses are made of,'' Marissa Ward said.

Although they have not heard from individual children, they have received several class pictures. The latest letter composed to send to Senegal featured each child's picture, with a brief synopsis of who they were.

Mowery is planning to expand on the students' international studies with a distance learning lesson on African masks from the Cleveland Art Museum. He also hopes to make connections with foreign exchange students from local colleges to add to the third graders' knowledge of the other culture.

"I think the Kalnow Center is an excellent idea for young children,'' Mowery said. "It will help them to develop a more realistic view of the world and places in the world. I hope it filters down to the elementary level.''

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Story Source: Senaca County Advertiser-Tribune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Senegal; World Wise Schools; Third Goal



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