Many connections are made in the process of exchanging art projects. We see it all the time, and with new eyes with our new facilitators. As Angela shares, perspectives broaden. Being connected nearly always leads to deeper understanding, a natural bridge to compassion and service.Often times, especially early in the morning, kids are still waking up. Dusting off the cobwebs of dreamtime, and slowly easing into another school day. The Cliff Valley fifth graders started like this on Thursday morning, yet the connections quickly awakened them from more than their morning malaise. They became energized, and joy filled the room as they tangibly connected to their friends in Ghana. Comments abounded on how good the art is from Ghana, especially since they do not have all the materials or grow up with the dedicated art class time. They also commented on how happy the kids seemed- given that they don't have nearly as much. Later in the morning, in Greg and Martha’s class at Paideia School, a similar scene unfolded. One of the girls found the girl who got her project because the picture that was taken in Ghana was taken of the girl holding her project- she was especially thrilled at the very tangible connection. The kids talked about wanting to take donations to help send kids to school that couldn't afford it. One student said that she was "grateful for school". Recognizing, maybe for the firsts time, in a new way, the value of their own education- another strong connection. Martha commented, “It was fantastic. The holiday drawings from the students in Ghana were amazing and the kids were fascinated. After they left, we spent another half an hour talking to the kids about what they learned from the project. They commented on how happy and appreciative the kids in Ghana were, even though they didn't have all the luxuries that the kids in our class have. I reminded them of what you always say--that this is an equal exchange and that American kids receive as much from Ghanaian kids as they give. They commented on individual drawings, the differences in their holiday celebrations and ours, and finally, what happiness really means. It's was awesome!” Recognizing happiness is not connected to material things. The day completed back with the 6th grade at Cliff Valley. Angela was surprised at how engaged and excited they were even though this project was not new to them. We were not, as the fortune to be connected for a couple of years really allows for a deepening of understanding, and becomes an integral part of their global connections. They continued to ask lots of questions especially about Ghana in general. One student asked if it was possible that a student from the US could go and spend some time going to school in Ghana if they paid for the tuition. Once again someone made a comment about how they realize that they get upset over silly things- like all of the sudden they had a perspective on what "real" problems are in comparison to the problems they perceive they have. Once again a student made a comment about how they are spoiled. There were also comments of realization that inherently we are all the same- want the same kinds of things- feel the same kinds of things. They realize, we share a common humanity. Connections… bridging hearts and minds, creating wise and compassionate citizens of the world. Children Inspiring Hope- connecting children globally, making a world of difference!