Simon Bruns is good at math, and he has the rice to prove it.
The 12-year-old from Germany attends the International Community School (ICS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The aspiring astronomer sits in his sixth grade mathematics class, leaning into his laptop, clicking on answers faster than the computer can load the questions:
888 – 222 =
642 + 322 =
43 x 75 =
He’s playing Freerice
as part of ICS’s first Freerice Week, a student-organized event that aimed to get sixth, seventh and eighth graders playing the online quiz and learning about hunger issues.
The event was the brainchild of Kara Hostetter and Jennifer Thieulin, 16 year-old students at ICS. They recognized that it was important to talk about hunger issues, especially in Ethiopia:
“We’re part of a school that’s really privileged. We have access to a lot of things, including food every day,” Kara explains. “Even though we live in Ethiopia
and there’s a lot of hunger around us, we aren’t necessarily aware of it. We planned Freerice Week because we wanted to raise awareness of the global issues outside of our ‘box’.”
Using other schools’ Freerice activities as a model, Kara and Jennifer enlisted the support of the middle school principal and began approaching teachers, requesting that they integrate Freerice into regular class time during the week. Proving an immensely popular idea, thousands of grains of rice were ‘earned’ for children around the world.
To encourage reflection and discussion about hunger, the week concluded with a presentation from Gerard Rebello, Deputy Head of Logistics of WFP Ethiopia. About 100 students sat spellbound as they watched a video
showing WFP’s work, from children enjoying school meals to boats fording rivers to reach people in need. The video stimulated questions from the basic “How does WFP get food?” to the practical “What if food falls on someone during an airdrop?”
The week got students like Simon thinking about their food for the first time. “Sometimes I get embarrassed when I eat food in front of people who don’t have any,” he reflects. But he knows that the 1230 grains of rice he earned today are making a small difference. “I feel like I’m doing something to help,” he smiles.
Written by Allison Bream, WFP Ethiopia