Pictured: “South Downs View,” Kent Capture. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

We are very grateful to the Rural School and Community Trust for accepting our proposal and giving us this amazing opportunity! Below you can read some excerpts of the grant proposal we created which will allow us to travel to London and the surrounding countryside for approximately ten days.

From the grant proposal:

We are curious to see how another country is dealing with intolerance and diversity through education… We chose England because their schools seem to be proactive in teaching about tolerance and differences. The majority language is English which will make it easier for us to discuss and make videos.

We will fly to London, England, in mid-June 2014 where we will get a taste of the diversity and the culture of this country. Because of our prior travels abroad and the availability of public transportation in London, we feel comfortable planning the trip on our own. We will stay in reasonably priced hotels and bed and breakfasts. Schools will still be in session during our ten-day stay. Having already gained permission from the charity, we will attend a workshop led by Show Racism the Red Card at a local London school or in the Southend. We hope to visit the new office for the charity, which should be open by the spring. We will also visit schools that have already received the training in order to talk to teachers and students. School visits will also give us a feel for the school climate, and we can gain a wealth of knowledge to bring back to our schools. We plan for at least one of these schools to be rural. We are curious to see the impact of helping young people learn to participate in an increasingly diverse society. During our visits we plan to make recordings of students’ stories in the style of StoryCorps. StoryCorps records and archives the stories of Americans from all walks of life. They believe that every life is important and worthy of respect.

As educators, we are eager to see all aspects of another country’s school system. Do they focus on literacy? Are they bound to a common core curriculum as we now are? Do they have daily recess? Is there any music education? What world languages do they study? How do they offer the daily religious service?

At least a day of walking in a rural area near a National Park (Countryside Rights of Way (CROW) Act permits this) will be included, so that we can contrast our rural Davie county home with rural England. We would also like to visit the Museum of London to get a sense of the history of the city and the immigrants who have shaped it. London has countless museums and attractions that we can take advantage of when not visiting in schools.

We hope students begin thinking about adventures or travels they might want to experience. High school students might start thinking about study abroad experiences that would enrich their college learning and personal life. We know from our own experiences that travel (perhaps even virtual travel) teaches us that there are many different kinds of people in the world. We learn to accept the differences in others more easily when we have seen and experienced more of the world.

Our end goal is to break down barriers so that students are allowed to be different but equal in the classroom and in our society. Differences should be valued.