It all started with a visit from two Zulu artists.
And now, Sally McClintock and other mid-Michigan teachers are launching a project that could send many children in an impoverished region of South Africa to school.
McClintock, a retired East Lansing Public Schools teacher and administrator, is the founder and director of Linking All Types of Teachers to International Cross-cultural Education, or LATTICE, a partnership that allows mid-Michigan teachers to collaborate with international students in the MSU College of Education.
The organization is selling baskets made by women in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, and using the proceeds to send the artists children to school.
Public schools are not free in South Africa, McClintock explained. Theres an incredibly high rate of unemployment.
McClintock said a W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded visit from two Zulu artists and a subsequent visit to South Africa made clear the need for education funding.
It touched our hearts when we realized that there were children who literally couldnt go to school because they dont have the money for the tuition or the uniforms, she said. Once you have a personal connection, you just know you want that child to go to school.
The organization has already set up an exhibit to help sell the baskets, which range in price from $20 to $300. They will be on display from Friday until June 2 at the Newaygo County Council for the Arts Gallery in Fremont, Mich., northwest of Grand Rapids.
The project is just one of the organizations many.
Jack Schwille, assistant dean for international studies at the College of Education, said the organizations work is important to those outside of the education community as well.
This is the era of globalization, he said. Everyones lives will be affected by that and the more we know about (each other) the better.
McClintock founded the group six years ago, after living a year in China and a year in Poland.
I had gotten so much out of that experience that I wanted to pass it on to the kids, she said. I want to have them be affected personally by personal relationships with these people.
Having international students from MSU give classroom presentations in area school districts has helped to increase diversity of thought, McClintock said.
The minute you get past stereotypes youve done students a great favor, she said. When holidays are coming up, when news items are coming up, the teachers have a sensitivity to the diversity of the issues.
The students pick up on that.
Haslett fourth grade teacher Margaret Holtschlag said the program benefits teachers as well.
In order to really do the best job that we can as educators we need to help our kids see the world through other peoples eyes, she said.
Holtschlag said children in Haslett are communicating with students in Korea.
Theyre sharing their writing, she said. By sharing their writing theyre also sharing aspects of who they are and what their cultures are all about.