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Field trips cost money. So they came up with a brilliant plan to bring the fun straight to kids.

Instead of bringing the kids to the world, this nonprofit is bringing the world to kids.

Field trips cost money. So they came up with a brilliant plan to bring the fun straight to kids.
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At my middle school, the “cultural education" element of Spanish class consisted of reading about Spanish-speaking countries in a textbook ... and an annual potluck day.

Don't get me wrong — I love a good tamale as much as the next person! But eating culturally inspired meals can only get you so far in terms of cross-cultural understanding.

Teachers and schools understand this, too, which is why field trips and visits to museums are built in to most schools' curricula. But that can be expensive, and many schools don't have the funds to take their students off-campus to learn about other cultures very often.


The Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum is a great solution to small field trip budgets. GIFs via ConnectingCulturesMM/YouTube.

One nonprofit saw this problem in their own backyard, so they devised an ingenious solution to provide cultural education to under-resourced schools.

Instead of bringing the kids to a museum, they would bring the museum to the kids.

Los Angeles' Connecting Cultures museum on wheels is now 20 years old, and thousands of kids (most of whom attend low-income schools) have gotten to see the world each year, all without leaving their own campuses.

The mobile museum has three main exhibits.

There's the commercial collection, which focuses on resources, trade, and colonization. The spiritual exhibit teaches kids about world religions, rituals, and music.

But my favorite is the "Everyday Connections" exhibit. It shows kids the stuff that other cultures considered parts of their day-to-day lives — boring details that we probably wouldn't think to share but are actually super-interesting to learn about. Students get to try on clothes that people from other countries wear, see what games they play, and learn about what other cultures cook and eat.

Image provided by Connecting Cultures.

Remember how awesome it was when the Scholastic Book Fair set up shop at your school for a week?

The whole idea of the museum-on-wheels is kind of similar … except instead of buying books, students get to learn about other countries' ways of life.

Students can grind and taste their own spices at the museum.

The museum staff drive to different schools each week to set up a collection of artifacts in a big room inside the school, like the library. Kids get an opportunity to explore the museum during their social studies class. They learn about the artifacts — but unlike some museums, they also get to pick up and touch some of the things on display.

That means there isn't a glass case between you and the thing you're supposed to be learning about — it's right there in front of you.

Image via Connecting Cultures.

This is especially important because we all learn in different ways. Some students may be able to absorb lots of information about, say, what goes on in a Moroccan marketplace by seeing a market on a video and hearing the market's ambient sounds. Other students might learn better by handling a 50 dirham note or touching the fabric that a vendor might sell.

The point here is that there's a huge difference between looking at a picture in your world geography textbook and actually holding a piece of culture in your hands.

Kim Moreno, a teacher at a school that hosted the mobile museum, said the exhibit allowed her students — a group of kids with diverse, international backgrounds and families — to understand each other better. Rather than relying on stereotypes, the mobile museum gave them a way to see other cultures as three-dimensional and real.

This is the type of learning that I can really get behind.

The Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum leaves a lasting impression on students, and we need more programs like it

In the words of the mobile museum's founder, Valerie Lezin, “I can take kids from bewilderment to understanding, and from shock to acceptance."

Check out this video of students getting the full mobile museum experience here:

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."