The Best Things in The World Aren't Things

We connect children cross-culturally in a tangible way, and watch in awe as the magic of minds and hearts expand. The students who are involved in our exchanges take the ideas and themes that are presented to them and give them meaning that goes beyond a simple, rote understanding. As the messenger birds landed back in the US from Ziavi-Bamefedo rural village, for example, we witnessed and shared much more than ordinary messages about earth stewardship. The students made significant connections to profound ideas about our culture and how we live. The heart of this powerful connection ties in perfectly to a poster in Mrs. Brown’s 4th grade classroom at HIES that proclaims that the best things in the world aren’t things. The students came to realize and make sense of this sentiment as they digested and discussed the information they gained through their international exchange. We had a 20 minute dialogue with the 4th graders, after Mrs. Ahler’s pre-1st returned to their classrooms. We wish that every parent had been in the classroom to hear, first hand, the maturity of what was shared. While these privileged students have more material “things” than their friends in Ziavi-Bamefedo village in Ghana, they saw their friends in Ghana as being more fortunate. As we explored what they meant, student after student referenced the importance of non-material things. “They are communicative, earth like and live a simpler life. I wish I could have that again.” “They are never negative about themselves, they are always positive and they dance a lot- where we are hard on ourselves.” “They play around and have more time with each other since they don’t have electronics.” “I want to try what it is like in other countries- to play in a group again.” “It is peaceful there.”

These young students shared some heartfelt and earnest thoughts on their observations from this connection. They shared a yearning for simpler things, more community, a deeper connection with the earth and outdoors, and positive messages. We hear your calls, and honor your connection to the heart of cross-cultural understanding- we all have something to share. In sharing, we are connected to the best things in the world.

See also HIES Beartracks article.