Every child has a gift. At Zambia’s Multisensory School, they discover why their gifts matter.
Teachers introduced the habit “Appreciation of Diversity” by challenging students to teach a younger class about a variety of fruits. The lessons not only included nutritional details but appreciation of the varied capacities that enrich a healthy society. Alter-abled students, including autistic children and children with Down’s syndrome, stood among neurotypical learners to educate their peers, demonstrating that diverse gifts make for a stronger classroom—and a better world.
The children extended their voices in celebration of diversity by writing letters to parents, to government officials, and to students at neighboring schools.
In the US, we struggle to make unheard voices equally heard. Imagine—no fewer than 72 ethnic tribes call Zambia home and vie for political influence. Full-Circle Learners show that maintaining harmony around the world begins with a generation who teach one another how to listen to every voice at the table.
Good news travels on foot, by bus and now via Zoom. Zambian educators can testify to that fact, thanks to new initiatives in the country that are bringing Full-Circle Learning to more bright young minds.
This month, in the rural Mumbwa District of Zambia, local educators requested online capacity building workshops to help 12 new schools revitalize their communities. In the same month, 14 schools in the capital city of Lusaka came together remotely, joining the movement with teacher training programs of their own.
Two weeks later, Zambia’s school principals met online with visionary leaders from ten countries. They set out to help tackle humanity’s challenges through Full-Circle Learning’s transformational education processes and projects with habits-of-heart at their core.
St. Thomas School principal, Raphael Chilwana, said: “We just want to thank you…for coming up with a program for school principals to help learners express love and unity in schools.”
Across Africa each year, 215 million people suffer from malaria, according to the World Health Organization. In some regions, the death toll surpasses that of Covid-19. When malaria strikes a community, 67% of the dead are children—but Africa’s children also lead the campaign to make malaria a problem of the past.
Full-Circle Learning students realized that tackling any public health crisis begins with the habit-of-heart of awareness. Schools in Liberia, Nigeria, and Zambia currently work together to spread the awareness that can protect communities from malaria.
In Nigeria, Harvard International students traveled across the region to galvanize peers as health advocates in their effort to save lives. A team of student researchers learned from their visit to a local hospital and taught their new knowledge to their classmates for a half an hour daily. Via cell phone, they met with learning partners abroad. Inspired by this international exchange of wisdom, they next traveled to another town, Umutu, where they visited six schools and trained 2,700 children and 170 parents to act as health advocates. In the photo above, the students are on the road to make this change.
Meanwhile, the rainy season brought flooding to Liberia. Standing water bred new mosquitoes to carry the malaria parasite. At Ma Vonyee G. Dahn Memorial School, students toured a malaria research lab and a public health department to get the facts. They shared specially treated mosquito nets and information about treatment with families in 14 homes. Elderly and high-risk community members who lived near the school happily received the gifts. Other community members welcomed a public presentation (see photo below) which detailed the steps for mosquito eradication.
Zambia’s Gifteria School also undertook a malaria prevention project. Students, parents, and teachers worked together to clean up the local environment and drain standing pools where mosquitoes could breed. Two local orphanages were especially vulnerable, due to their location near a stream. The Gifteria students visited these orphanages and the surrounding community, mosquito-proofing the landscape and giving treated nets to those in greatest need.
By enhancing their projects through “wisdom exchanges,” each group of global learners accomplished more than they could have on their own. At present, the students continue their public health advocacy to improve the wellbeing of their human family.
Help FCL’s students slap out malaria.
World peace begins with the leaders of the future. This spring, a determined group of students in Zambia and the Gambia worked together across borders to bring peaceful change to their countries.
In both countries, political leaders have been using tribalist language to pit ethnic groups against each other. In Zambia, this rhetoric amplifies the tensions between the nation's 72 tribes, and similar divisions are growing among the 8 tribes that call the Gambia home.
Students at FCL schools in the two countries independently recognized the growing problem, setting a course towards peace by organizing marches, conflict resolution demonstrations, and celebrations of cultural diversity.
When the two groups of students realized their goals were the same, their schools began to study the habit-of-heart “Appreciation of Diversity.” They connected internationally, sharing global ideas to create local change.
In both nations, students walked in the streets and gave bold speeches, advocating for unity. In the Gambia, an open mic allowed passersby to give their own speeches in the marketplace, which meant the whole community could contribute to the spirit of togetherness illuminating the gathering of hundreds. In Zambia, some said they would take the messages back to their villages.
The schools in both countries held cultural festivals to celebrate the diverse heritage of the many tribal groups living side by side. While enjoying the poetry, drama, songs, and traditional dances, students and guests expressed gratitude that they finally felt they had a place where they all belonged. In Zambia, the 50 students’ performances reached a wide TV and radio audience, in addition to bringing joy to the guests physically in attendance.
One Zambian grandmother, Mrs. Museteka, said in praise of the students’ work:
“We are one people. One nation. One human family.”
Help FCL’s students bring peace to our human family.
In the pictures: Dr. Farzin Rahmani visited the staff of Blessed ValeSchool. He also introduced the project to Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president. 70 teachers formed a virtual “nest” to represent their role in the students’ lives. FCL facilitator Eric Muleya helped students reduce stigma and honor the skills and needs of diverse learners. Teachers from six schools participated in a Full-Circle Learning workshop in 2020. Students used math to learn social distancing. Two teachers learned the process of conflict resolution. Blessed Vale Students conducted an Advocacy project to encourage education in 2012. Their efforts to inspire street children to attend school doubled the population of their school.