Wednesday, December 16, 2009
a penny for your thoughts
I poured 18,953 pennies out of six different containers into the counting machine at Air Academy Federal Credit Union today. Ok, so there were a few nickels and dimes, but for the most part, people did as my students asked and only put in pennies.
Back in September, my students and I began reading Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World...One Child at a Time, the Young Readers edition of Greg Mortenson's bestseller. It has everything a Pre-GED diverse adult education class could ever want: perfect reading level (6/7th grade), the power of persistence, a hero, family, the value of education, religion, current events, foreign lands, guns, war, hope. We have had some amazing class discussions this semester. There were many times when I just let them go and listened....
After watching some videos, my students became ever more interested and inspired to do something. So I let them.
Pennies for Peace is deceptively simple: collect pennies and donate them to help build more schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the lessons learned by those who plan and carry out and participate in the penny collecting go deep. My students range in age from 17-54, and they are either immigrants for whom English is their second language, or native speakers for whom the system simply never worked. For most of them, philanthropic giving is the absolute last thing on their minds. Some of the other teachers were even leery of the idea of a penny drive at first, because they didn't want to impose upon the already economically fragile lives of many of our students.
What I found, however, is that having the opportunity to be the GIVER is so very empowering! Remembering that someone is struggling even more than you can be a great motivator to not give up yourself. Alone, we can't do much, but together, we can. I know it sounds cheesy, and it is, but it's REAL. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit.
And organizing a campaign is a way to learn all kinds of real-life, valuable skills (NONE of which I wrote an objective on the board for, mind you).
Tomorrow, the "Pennies for Peace Committee" will make an on-line donation to the Central Asia Institute for $189.53. A drop in the ocean. Their drop. Who knows how far the ripples will travel.