ATHENS, Ohio (March 16, 2007) -- Ordinarily, pajama parties involve junk food, gossip and breaking out the Ouija board. In the hands of Ohio University's Global Leadership Center students, however, a pajama party became a cross-cultural educational experience that taught students about Africa and Malaria.
GLC students Kayce Amelia Berke, Erin Liberg and Anthony Chambers developed a project that engaged local elementary students in a campaign known as Malaria No More, which provides bed nets, education and medicine to African countries stricken by the Malaria epidemic.
"We chose the idea of the pajama party because it was an interactive idea that would help remind children that as they sleep in peace other children sleep with the fear of being bit by a mosquito that could carry Malaria," Berke said. "Awareness is important, especially since every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies from this disease."
Partnering with the Kids on Campus program, the pajama party, which took place at Alexander Elementary on Feb. 22 from 3 to 4:30 p.m., worked with approximately 50 students from first through sixth grades.
The event kicked off with an informational power point that provided facts and pictures about Africa as well as educational information about Malaria. Stations were set up where children made cards to send with bed nets to Africa, played a Zimbabwe marble game and were taught different numbers and animals in Swahili. The children also made a jungle trail mix and listened to Ghanaian music.
"The event is important because it is vital children are exposed to global issues at an early age. This helps them to begin to think outside their own lives and try and connect with children the same age living in different situations," Berke said.
The GLC offers a two-year undergraduate certificate that prepares students to become lifelong learners in order to serve as internationally minded, skilled, attuned, professional and experienced leaders in all walks of life. The GLC certificate is not a degree-granting academic discipline but a curricular and co-curricular program that enhances other disciplines.
"As a Latin American Studies major and Spanish minor I could not have imagined my academic studies without this Global Leadership Center," Berke said.
Through the Global Leadership Program, Berke has traveled to Thailand and worked with Chiang Mai University, developed a product proposal for Procter & Gamble, been published in the Harvard Pluralism project newsletter, created a feasible exchange program for the Polish Embassy and worked to try and save a local Japanese tree house.
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