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.

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:

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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