Westside High School physics teacher Judy Stucky represented Nebraska this summer on a trip to Peru.
She was one of 51 teachers chosen as part of the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship. A total of 33 American teachers made the 10-day trip to the third world country. Typically people are discouraged to bring gifts to the people on these trips, but the group decided to crowdsource for funds and buy books for children.
They raised nearly $9,000 in the U.S. and used that money to buy bilingual story books for children ages 3-13.
"I've never seen kids so excited for books," Stucky went on to say, "they were just hopping up and down with anticipation when they heard we had books and we had these big boxes of books."
Stucky said the group visited high-achieving schools in a country not known for good test scores. She noticed that even the best schools lacked quality supplies that American school children often taken for granted.
The American teachers shared lessons about the importance of hands-on learning and activities. She said she also brought back experiences that she uses in her classroom. For example, one of her excursions to Machu Picchu offered an interesting lesson. "They'd actually wet the road and the bus would do a controlled slide around that corner so I can use that in my physics class . . . and this is an application you wouldn't see here everyday." Stucky says she then is able to incorporate pictures from this summer's trip to make her teachings much interesting to students.
She says the experience helped her become a better person and teacher. "One thing I hope is that I'm more open-minded, and that I've changed and more accepting in my experiences of different people and cultures and that's not going to be obvious to anyone, but I feel that myself."