Packet Sea Foam: Students reach out to peers in Uganda

June 27, 2011 

Thanks to teachers at Hilton Head Island Elementary School for sharing the story of "a terrific project some of our girls were involved in this year. We are so proud of our girls and feel this is the embodiment of what an internationally-minded student should be."

Here are the details:

Seven young students at Hilton Head Island Elementary are making a personal contribution to the education of their fellow students in Uganda. Working through the Books of Hope organization (www.booksofhope.org), the girls created books for young students at the Vienna Junior Day and Boarding School in Gulu Town, Uganda.

Books of Hope is a service-learning organization that matches American students with Ugandan schools in need of educational materials. The organization works with the American students to advise them on the types of books needed. Then the students here create books and send them digitally to the organization that in turn gets them to the school in Uganda.

Books of Hope has three goals: 1. To help children who need educational materials in countries where English proficiency is necessary for their success; 2. To support U.S. literacy by motivating students to write for an audience of their peers; 3. To foster empathy and social responsibility in American students by providing an effective way for them to learn about and make a difference in the lives of children facing war, poverty, disease and slavery around the world.

Teachers Trish Smoot and Beth Fox sponsored the group, which met each week for seven weeks to complete the books. The girls created alphabet books, counting books, a book on the color spectrum and one on common diseases. They studied the animals of Uganda and the needs of the students so they could make materials that pictured things that were familiar to the Vienna Junior Day students. The girls also included short descriptions of their school and environment.

Being an author of educational materials was a new experience for the fifth-graders.

"When I was working on the books I kept reminding myself that I was making books for kids that don't have anything," author Abby Gross said.

The most interesting thing about the project was "creating books on our own for someone in a different country," said Mallory Liggett. Mallory, along with her friend Chandler Morris, created a book on the primary and secondary colors titled "A Book of Color."

All of the girls are students in Smoot's gifted and talented reading class. In addition to Mallory, Abby and Chandler, the group also included Emily Wilbourne, Emmy Todd, Samantha Parlagreco and Olivia Staff.

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