Editor's note: In February 2015, Heifer was the focus of a workshop, “Global Civic Literacy in the Classroom and Beyond” presented at the National Association of Independent Schools Annual conference. One of the presenters of the workshop was Dr. Steve Robinson, President of the Southern Association of Independent Schools. Dr. Robinson has served as president of SAIS since July 2007 and prior to that was headmaster at two independent schools and held administrative roles at a number of universities. Dr. Robinson has been a vocal advocate for Heifer and the importance of the role of schools in developing students who are globally aware and engaged. The following is an excerpt of a post from Dr. Robinson’s own blog.
Heifer provides educators with numerous resources, curriculum, and opportunities to pass along its lessons of giving and sustainability to students. It maintains destinations in the United States where students can experience what it feels like to be poor in a developing country. Upon arriving for a stay at one of Heifer’s Global Villages, students are assigned to different countries such as Thailand, Guatemala, Uganda, or even a refugee camp. They are each given limited supplies based on their country and must barter with other countries to get everything they need for the night. The refugee students are given nothing and must beg for everything they need, and they cannot speak. Through the experience the students learn a range of skills from leadership, to communication and negotiation, to team building, to cooking and caring for animals. But more importantly they experience a hint of what it means to lack the basic necessities, live in poverty, or live hungry.
For schools who prefer to offer educational experiences in their own classroom, Heifer International offers a number of educational resources for teachers to use. Educators can download lesson plans and activities, plan fundraisers, and order free resources for students at www.readtofeed.org .
It is just these types of experiences that bridge the gap between theory and real world life lessons. Such programs help our students to develop cultural empathy and global competence. Their worldviews are challenged for the better. They learn the importance of “passing on the gift,” and see real ways they can impact and improve their world.