Lessons Abroad

For seventh grade social science teacher Chris Heffernan, Thanksgiving was a little different this year.

“That was my Thanksgiving meal, crickets and tarantula,” said Heffernan.

A typical meal in Cambodia, where Heffernan spent the week before and after Thanksgiving traveling with ProjectExplorer.org, an organization that makes educational videos focused on global awareness.

Heffernan explains, “This year they had funding to bring with them a teacher to help them kind of decided what kind of content would be best for schools to use, and for me a chance to learn about a country I know, or I knew very little about.”

The group visited some of Cambodia’s most historic sties, documenting different aspects of the country’s culture, history and daily life, all of which will be featured in upcoming ProjectExplorer.org videos.

“If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a video clip is worth infinitely more. And there are things you can see that I can’t adequately explain or I can’t give them an article to read about, but when they see it they can totally understand it,” said Heffernan.

Even though the trip meant time away from the classroom, the administration at Jefferson Junior High knew that their own students would benefit from Heffernan’s time abroad.

“I feel like its teachers responsibility to get our kids ready for a global society, and the best way to do that is their own professional development,” said Nancy Voise, Principal of Jefferson Junior High.

Now back at school, Heffernan is hoping to use his experiences to help make his students more globally aware.

“Culturally we’re very different, in a lot of ways we’re all very much the same as well. That’s been the lesson that I’ve been able to come back and talk to my students about, is that different is just different, it’s not good or bad, it’s just different,” said Heffernan.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.

 

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