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:

Most Shared
True
TOMS One for One

We all know that social media can be a cesspool of trolly negativity, but sometimes a story comes along that totally restores your faith in the whole thing. Enter the KFC proposal that started off being mocked and ended up with a swarm of support from individuals and companies who united to give the couple an experience to remember.

Facebook user Tae Spears shared the story with screenshots from Twitter, and the response has been overwhelming.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / ESPN

Madison Square Garden in New York City is known for having hosted some legendary performances. George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in '71, Billy Joel's 12 sellouts in '06, and Carmelo Anthony's 62 points in a 2014 victory against the Charlotte Bobcats, just to name a few.

But it's hard to imagine one person holding the legendary arena in the palm of their hand quite like Pete DuPré, better known as "Harmonica Pete," did on Veterans Day.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Many of us are too young to remember the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986, much less any details about it. But thanks to a viral Facebook post from Misfit History, some attention is being shed on an incredible heroine who saved many American lives in the standoff.

The post reads:

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq. / YouTube

Whenever life becomes too tedious or stressful, it seems that the human psyche has a release valve that turns on and we just go, "F it."

I give up. I no longer care. I got nothing left.

It's a wonderful moment when we go from being at our wits end to being on the other side of the madness. Because, after all, as Mark Manson, author of "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" says:

You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact.
Keep Reading Show less
popular