Allan A. Greenleaf’s outstanding participation in the World Education Games and support for a UNICEF education project has really taken off… literally. A flight today at 1:45 a.m. to Hanoi carried a team of two students, two parents and a teacher on an 11-day tour of schools in the Lao Cai region of Vietnam.
Greenleaf became the only school on the trip after winning a draw that included schools worldwide that had also raised funds for UNICEF’s School-in-a-Box initiative. Their involvement grew out of their academic success – and continues as students update their online travel blogs.
“In June of this year we had a school assembly in the morning explaining that our school had won the trip,” Grade 8 student Danielle Erb explains on her blog. “With such luck, it seems like we’re the farthest possible school from Vietnam to ever get chosen and yet we still did. The whole school was buzzing with excitement!”
Greenleaf has done very well in the World Education Games, the largest online academic games in the world with over 5 million students registered around the world. Students compete in fun math, science, and spelling challenges trying to place in the top 100 competitors of the world.
“All our computers in the schools were hopping! Students raced home to make sure that they stayed ahead. It was incredible,” blogs Greenleaf teacher Nirogi Wijayasingha. “While we were fortunate enough to join in this global event, (organizers) recognized that there are many, many children who do not have access to an education. So, they teamed up with UNICEF and their School-in-a-Box programme to encourage those of us who have access to a solid education to donate to others.”
The School-in-a-Box is part of UNICEF’s response within 72 hours of a global emergency that allows students to continue learning in adverse conditions. The locked, aluminum box contains supplies and materials for a teacher and up to 40 students. The box, with a lid that can double as a blackboard, contains basic school supplies as well as a wooden teaching clock, wooden cubes for counting, a solar radio and laminated posters of the alphabet, multiplication and number tables.
In the trip courtesy of UNICEF, the four travellers will tour the northern Vietnamese region of Lao Cai to learn about bilingual education in Vietnam, as well as how to achieve quality, equitable education for children. Barriers to education in this area still exist for children of ethnic minority tribes. UNICEF and its partners are engaged with the Government of Vietnam in developing bilingual education programs to address the needs of 54 ethnic groups.
The travellers include Danielle, Wijayasingha, Greenleaf graduate Eoin (pronounced Owen) Blythe who won the trip while in Grade 8, and a parent for each student. Eoin earned fourth place in the World Education Games Maple Leaf Challenge in 2011, an intense math competition. Eoin was given a place on the Vietnam trip as a WEG ambassador, while Danielle, also a top finalist in the games, won a draw at the school after a challenging application process.
“After reading the email I was still in awe over the fact that I won,” Danielle blogs. “My heart was racing and my head was spinning. I will do blog posts every day I’m in Vietnam so you guys can read them and it should be a life-changing experience for me to bring back and share with everyone in my community!!”
During the trip, students can follow along and interact on blogs created for the trip.
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