So, I'm picking up this blog again because what it stands for is now again in the front of my mind. My trip to Japan got me thinking about the world and its citizens. For various reasons I quit thinking about that and got caught up in the unimportant details of everyday living.
Well, I'm not doing that anymore!!
Over Spring Break, I read Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, both by Greg Mortenson. They are the story of his mission to promote peace by establishing over 130 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These schools offer a secular education--and they're open to girls. In fact, he has a heart for girls' education and says educating girls is the key to lasting peace and development in these countries. These books are amazing. They have opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart. His non-profit, the Central Asia Institute, is now my charity of choice. There is a way to help his mission and get kids involved--Pennies for Peace. It teaches every child that they can become philanthropists through collecting pennies. Even the most challenged kids can find and contribute a penny--one that will buy a pencil in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I'm so excited about teaching my kids about helping out and hope to have a P4P campaign when we return to school in September. But the ultimate was getting to meet Greg Mortenson Monday night. I went to UT Tyler to hear him lecture and I attended a small reception where he was gracious enough to sign TCoT and the children's version, Listen to the Wind. I had to concentrate on not being star-struck!! I don't think I did a very good job of that though... :)
Reading this story has awakened in me a desire to become aware of world issues and help when I can. I participated in "One Day Without Shoes" on April 8th to raise awareness of the dangers of living barefoot in developing countries. My kids again surprised me. After I had answered the obvious question of why I was barefoot, they kids wanted to know what they needed to do. I hope to co-ordinate a shoe donation with being barefoot next year. My kids rock!!! I also follow Mr. Mortenson and his son, Khyber, on Twitter. Khyber is leading a campaign to end the use of landmines. I sent an email to the president asking him to sign an accord that up to this point, the US hasn't signed. That doesn't make any sense since we spend the most money on getting rid of landmines and we haven't used or made or exported them in years and years. I also am looking for some student leaders to help with the P4P campaign.
I definitely feel re-energized by these activities. I know have a new desire to show my kids that they really can make a difference even if they think they're doing "small" things. Sometimes, my students are written off because of their low socio-economic status. I'm excited to show them they can help out and can change their world!!!
So, connecting the events over the last few years that brings me to this point--the peace workshop in Tokyo, reading Greg Mortenson's books, learning about world issues--I see that I have an opportunity to join in the global conversations of peace, education, and human rights. I'm very excited about what the months to come will bring.