Creative ConnectionsJuly 18, 2012
At the end of each school year, the Rainforest Alliance education team connects students from our US partner schools with students living in the tropical rainforest in an art exchange. This year, 16 US classes and 35 Guatemalan classes participated in our arts exchange. Here, Lindsay Clark, a member of our education team, writes about the art exchanges she attended in Newark, NJ and Brooklyn, NY*.
Facilitated by our wonderful friends at Creative Connections, students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade at Ann Street School in Newark, NJ and P.S. 67 and P.S. 15 in Brooklyn, NY created individual pieces of art that reflected an important aspect of their community, culture or life. They sent their artwork to their counterparts in the tropical rainforest of Guatemala and eagerly awaited the arrival of artwork from their new Latin American friends.
Once the Guatemalan students’ artwork arrived, they examined the pieces closely and discussed the differences and similarities between their own work and the art they had received from their new Guatemalan friends. Then, they prepared for a conversation with the Guatemalan students via videoconference.
On the morning of the videoconferences, the classes buzzed with excitement. Students were eager to meet their new friends, and were clearly thrilled when a screen popped up featuring a room filled with equally excited kids in Guatemala! They were so happy to have the opportunity to learn more about each other’s communities, families and cultures.
One student from Ann Street School in New Jersey asked, “What does your school look like?” He was shocked to hear that students in Guatemala studied in a simple one-floor building with four classrooms and only 100 students. When asked the same, his New Jersey class explained that their school had four floors and 1300 students!
In Brooklyn, a student at P.S. 15 brought a drawing up to the camera and asked, “What is this [pointing to an object in the drawing]?” A Guatemalan student explained that it was a marimba, a traditional instrument made from a very special wood that can only be found in the rainforest. The Brooklyn students compared it to an instrument they are familiar with, the xylophone.
And while U.S. students were inquisitive about the “magical” rainforest in Guatemala, students in Guatemala were equally eager to learn about life in a big city. Despite the fact that the students were separated by thousands of miles, their love and desire to protect the environment both at home and afar was evident.
Visit our Learning Site to learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s work with students of all ages.
*Creative Connections also facilitated exchanges in Jacksonville, FL, which Clark did not attend.