There is a global project anchored in Manteca aimed at building bridges across the world.
The Human Differences Project brought students in 50 classrooms from 37 different countries across six continents together, including The Room Nine Kids, a fifth-grade class at Lincoln Elementary in Manteca Unified School District.
Co-authored by The Room Nine Kids’ teacher, Tammy Dunbar, and Top 50 Global Teacher Finalist from Belgium, Koen Timmers, The Human Differences Project looks at what keeps us apart. Why do we build both visible and invisible walls around ourselves and each other? How can we reach out to those who are on “the other side of wall?” And what do we do when “we” are the ones on the other side of the wall?
“What an amazing project this has become,” said Dunbar. “Koen and I worked hard to craft a global project which would allow students to explore both the invisible and visible walls we build that keep us apart. Our goal was to help our students learn that they are the ones that can break down those walls through education, understanding and both local and global collaboration, but they have well exceeded our expectations.”
The project consisted of five weekly topics leading students through a journey of discovery about the visible and invisible walls all around us. Each week, students discuss and research essential questions, then report their discoveries back to the participating classes on the project website in any form they or their teachers chose. Sharing their findings with other classrooms allowed students to learn firsthand what other countries think about these difficult issues and what challenges each country has in facing them. In the fourth week of the project, students connected with peers from very different cultures using Skype. During the video calls, students sang, danced, showed posters they created, laughed and learned that they all have much in common.
“We had no idea where the creativity and collaboration of our participating teachers and students would take us,” Dunbar said. “We keep hearing more and more stories of how it has changed perspectives, opened lines of communication and created a culture of change.