John’s Journal: Students Cross Bridge of Hope

While traveling this past week I had a chance to see some of the “bridges” we are creating in schools in action. At AVPS in Kingston, Ontario, Canada 4th graders in Nick Manolakas’ class did a Skype call with BoPH Club Members at the Western Connecticut AIS Magnet School in Danbury, CT in the USA. The students were thrilled to see one another and be able to say hello, but the connection went much deeper than that as they shared their artwork and their “hopes’ for the future.

This was part of the BoPH March Hope project. The students from Canada shared their words in English and French with BoPH Club Leader Meg McLoone translating for the Danbury group. A poignant moment occurred when a Canadian girl shared that her “hope” was that her Mom would become healthy again. When she explained that her Mom was in the hospital being treated for mental health reasons members of both groups expressed their sympathy and  hope that this girls Mom would recover. It seemed that everyone understood how hard it is when a family member or loved one isn’t doing well. Other students from both groups shared hopes for our world including an end to hunger, the cessation of wars, and finding a cure for cancer. The experience of speaking into the camera and seeing students in another country respond reinforced the power of connecting with others.

The next day I did a songwriting residency at Walberta Park School in Syracuse, NY. The students there were enthralled when I showed them video that included students from Mukwashi School in Zambia and from AIS Vienna in Austria. The boys and girls in Syracuse loved the fact that the children in Africa and Europe knew the words and sign language for “It’s the Little Things,” a song that they sing often at Walberta Park. This was fun and rewarding for me since I composed the song.

I’m grateful when students make these connections through sharing their ideas, artwork, and stories. As the lyrics in the song “It’s the Little Things” say, “it’s the little things we do together that make this world a little better.” My thanks to all the teachers and friends who are helping young people learn more about other places and people around the world!

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