about the author
Youth Outreach Coordinator
HI – My name is Graham Bell. I have been an educator for the last 13 years, teaching at both primary and secondary levels in the UK and in international schools.
“Free rice has taught me that even the littlest of things can help a family or person on the other side of the world.” - Koraun Chase
We could have picked up litter, we could have had a bake sale, and we could have raked leaves. We chose to help stop world hunger. Each year our students at Edgewood High School in Edgewood, Maryland, are required to complete a service learning project where students have to serve the community while enriching their minds. In the past, projects have been done that made in impact in the local community, but we wanted to do something that would show our students that one person can impact the world.
This year, the English department came up with the idea to earn rice from the World Food Programme’s website to help aid starving people and nations. In addition to earning rice, our students wrote reflections and researched information about this problem. By thinking about what it means to be truly hungry and consider who it is that is being helped, our students were inspired and motivated to help the world. We used a Wiki, a free educational website creator, for students to reflect (View ours at http://ehsfreerice.pbwiki.com/). While the intention of the site was to be environmentally conscious and keep students from misplacing their work, it connected our school in a way we were not expecting. Every student has their own web page on the site where they make it his or her own. In a world where teenagers are extremely techno-savy, they embraced site, and even prefer it to a booklet of questions. Freshman Kevin Price agrees that “Free Rice is the most fun and educational service learning project that I’ve done yet.”
Our school goal was to earn 1.3 million grains of rice by the end of May. We began this project the first week of February, and we have already met our goal within the first month. Our students have gone further than what is asked of them, and are earning thousands of grains of rice on their own time. With mice clicking furiously to answer rice questions, students are not just learning vocabulary words, they are learning what impression one person can make on the world. Koraun Chase, junior, says that “Free rice has taught me that even the littlest of things can help a family or person on the other side of the world.”
As of today, our school is almost at 3 million grains of rice, over double our yearly goal, and we still have 2 whole months left. Brian Calderon-Ordonez, freshman, thinks that “by doing this, we see how other people are being helped and lives are being changed. It’s not about getting a high score; it’s about changing the world.” We asked our students to do their part, and they heeded the call, one grain of rice at a time.
Submitted by Kimberly Whitaker, Edgewood High School Teacher of English