The 5-6 class had a wonderful overnight to the Heifer International Village at Howell Nature Center. We started the trip learning about the distribution of the population and resources across the globe–and how the two don’t match up, leading to the issue of poverty around the globe that Heifer International tries to address.
Kids then toured the Village, seeing examples of homes from people living in poverty around the world, including a southern African round house, a wood house on stilts representative of rural Thailand, scrap homes that might be in any urban slum in theworld, a wooden cabin from rural Appalachia, and others.
After touring the homes, students were divided into family groups for the afternoon and night. Eight of our students were given the urban slums, 3 were to live in Appalchia, and 6 in Thailand. Each group was also given certain challenges–a water balloon baby that had to survive the night and for whom we had to reserve milk (we only held one funeral), as well as various illnesses and other issues that restricted the student’s movement. In order to cure them, the students had to give up some of their resources, which mean less food for dinner that night!
The slums group started with only a small container of rice. Thailand started out with quinoa, cooking oil, and spices, and Appalachia started with eggs, milk, and fresh potatoes and veggies. The kids had to trade with each other and come up with a reasonable dinner–that’s all we were eating that night! I was with the Thailand group, and I will say I’m extremely impressed with what they cooked over our open fire. They made fry bread out of cornmeal, fried potatoes, and stir-fried quinoa with onions, carrots, sugar(!) and a little cumin. They all LOVED it. Several kids said they had never liked quinoa before that night so ask them to cook it next time you try to serve it at home! Of course, being outside always helps with being hungry. The group in the slums was able to do work for the other groups (like collecting firewood) and also received lots of free gifts and made what I’m told was a good fried rice with eggs. And the Appalachian group made an incredible stove-top cornbread and potato-vegetable soup.
One thing that was awesome to hear was how different the SK groups were from other groups who come. Usually kids are competitive and stingy with their trades, as understandably, they are trying to make sure they have enough for themselves to eat. Apparently there is also often stealing from other groups. (But as one of our students said “but you told us there was no stealing!”)
The facilitator saw something with SK kids that she’d never seen before–they were giving away their resources and food to the other groups that needed it, and letting other resources go for easier trades, or allowing groups to borrow items. They were taking care of each other. I’m not surprised, but I am proud. It’s this awesome spirit that makes Summers-Knoll such as wonderful place to be and teach. Our students are amazing, and this exercise just proved even more how much so.
There were many (many!) kids nervous about a cold night outside away from home, and they all looked after each other and did great. It was so much fun to see how happy they were when they woke up–they were definitely proud of themselves!