World wise schools (WWS)
Sharing the Peace Corps experience with a class of students in a U.S. school by participating in Peace Corps' World Wise Schools (WOOS) program has become a popular secondary activity for PCVs and a rewarding experience for them and for the school children involved. Each year, WWS matches thousands of Volunteers with third- through twelfth-grade classes in the U.S. so that through the Volunteers, U.S. students can learn to understand another culture and the role of PCVs.
To participate, PCVs are asked to fill out a brief enrollment form and submit it to the World Wise Schools office in Washington. Matches are made from June though December, so interested PCVs must commit to the program early in their service, since no matches are made if a PCV's Close of Service date falls before the end of the stateside school year. Once matched, the PCV and teacher decide the shape and scope of the exchange.
One PCV, for example, created a 26-page construction paper notebook of photographs, entitled "The ABCs of The Gambia" ("A" is for "anthill," etc.). In Sri Lanka, a PCV made a tape recording of "typical village sounds," while another photographed local children and recorded them talking about "their favorite things" to produce a slide show for her U.S. audience.
A PCV in Nepal who had overcome a learning disability to go through college and become a Volunteer was linked up with a class of special education students who were so impressed by her example that they were eager to correspond with her even though they normally were reluctant to write anything. Nominated by the teacher who instructed the class and who incorporated her material into his lesson plans, she received the Illinois "Learning Disabled Adult of the Year" award in 1992.
In English classes in countries from Honduras to Poland, PCVs have had their students write essays in English about their countries and have then sent the essays to their WWS classes. Other PCVs have teamed up with local teachers to have their classes create "culture boxes," video tapes or other materials that would foster a cross-cultural exchange between host-country students and their U.S. counterparts. Frequently, such materials have become incorporated into the study guides and videos that World Wise Schools produces for U.S. teachers to use in their geography and social studies lessons, and they will be reproduced for the WWS World Wide Web server to reach a still larger audience on the Internet.
World Wise Schools is now preparing a study guide for the World Map Project to combine the original map-making procedures with lessons in such related subjects as geography, anthropology and mathematics. The Project has taken on the earmarks of a Third Goal program as RPCVs have organized workshops for teachers in the U.S to replicate the project. In fact, the largest hand-drawn map in the world now is in the state of Oregon!
Organizing a Third Goal Committee in the Dominican Republic
Before World Wise Schools became a separate entity in Peace Corps, Volunteers on their own linked up with groups in the U.S. to promote cultural exchange and to counter stereotypical misconceptions about peoples in the developing world. In the Dominican Republic, PCVs formed a "Third Goal Committee" to share ideas on how they could best disseminate information to the U.S. and begin to stockpile collectibles - photographs, artwork, handicrafts, musical recordings, musical instruments, clothing - that would effectively portray the country and become a museum in miniature.
WWS encourages all PCVs to organize in-country Third Goal Committees to gather as much information as they can about their countries so that they will be able to "bring the world home" as classroom speakers after they complete their Peace Corps service.
Exhibiting Children's Artwork in Denver, Colorado
ECOS, an environmental communication service in Denver, Colorado, contacted the Peace Corps about inviting children who live in tropical countries to participate in an art exhibit on rain forests that the Denver Zoo was organizing. WWS worked with the Environment Sector in Peace Corps' Office of Training and Program Support (OTAPS) to spread the word to Peace Corps posts around the world. A dozen Volunteers responded - from the Philippines, Argentina, Paraguay, Thailand, the Central African Republic, and Botswana - with 180 different samples of children's drawings and handiwork depicting the forests they were familiar with. The Volunteers contacted ECOS directly to make the necessary arrangements for the children's display at "Tropical Discovery."
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