Geography students at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt will soon get class help from someone on another continent.
Roosevelt teacher Jessica Stern said her Advanced Placement geography class will get the chance to learn about Cameroon, a country in central Africa, by working with a Peace Corps volunteer who will be stationed in the country.
“I am always trying to get the kids to think outside of Greenbelt, and this is a perfect opportunity,” Stern said.
Ann Harris Davidson, a former Berwyn Heights resident who will be stationed in Cameroon through the Peace Corps, contacted Stern and asked whether she would be interested in working together through the Peace Corp’s Paul D. Coverdell World Wise School program, which matches Peace Corps volunteers in the field with teachers in U.S. classrooms.
Kelly McCormack, a public affairs specialist with the Peace Corps, explained that volunteers teach U.S. students about the people, geography, environment and culture of their country of service. She said that, along with sending letters, Peace Corps volunteers are able to speak directly with many U.S.-based classrooms using online technology such as Skype and are able to quickly show students what it’s like to live and work in another country.
Through the partnership, Stern said students will get the chance to apply broad subjects that are covered in the course, like cultural tensions within countries, to Cameroon.
“Piece by piece, we will build perspective on this part of the world,” Stern said. “The kids benefit from seeing visuals and what is really happening on the ground.”
Davidson said she plans on checking in monthly during class, hopefully via Skype, with Stern’s 90 students to provide the students with demographic, cultural and geographic data that is relevant to their course of studies and that might provide a real-world application for what they are studying.
“It is an opportunity to provide information to students from a country with a different profile than that of their own country,” Davidson said.
Davidson said that after she was accepted as a Peace Corps volunteer, she received a packet in late June that included a file asking her to consider making a connection with a school in the United States while she was in Africa through the World Wise School program.
Davidson said she immediately thought of working with the Prince George’s County Public Schools system because she was so pleased with the education her daughter, Imogen Davidson White, now 23, received as a student at Rogers Heights Elementary School in Bladensburg, Greenbelt Middle School and Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
“Because I am so familiar with the Prince George’s County schools and because I am so grateful for the education our own daughter was given, I chose to work with a Prince George’s County school, and was connected with Mrs. Stern,” she said.
McCormack said the following schools in Prince George’s County also participate in the World Wise Schools program: The Academy of Saint Matthias the Apostle in Lanham, Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Fairmont Heights High School in Capitol Heights, Isaac J. Gourdine Middle School in Fort Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Beltsville, Longfields Elementary School in Forestville, Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi and G. James Gholson Middle School in Landover.