For three weeks in September, Laster left her home in Jacksonville to visit her friend, Jackie Lenhardt, in Tanzania, Africa. On her visit to Africa, she learned about the culture, the customs, and the people of Tanzania. When she returned home, she was excited to share what she learned with Karen Nelson’s second grade students. Her son Kennedy is a student in Nelson’s classroom this year.
While she was on her trip, Laster sent daily updates of her adventures. The children were able to see day by day the exciting people and places Laster was visiting. The students saw pictures of the Maasai tribe in their red and purple robes, zebras and giraffes while on safari, and the majesty of Mount Kilimanjaro. They were in awe of the congested, narrow roads of the city and the simple mud huts of the villages.
During her classroom visit, Laster shared photos and stories of her journey, which she had carefully documented in photographs. During her presentation, the children saw everything from what was served for breakfast to the mosquito netting placed around the beds at night. At the end of her visit, Laster shared with the children all the items she brought back from her trip: masks, bowls, scarves, paintings, drums, jewelry and clothing. She wrapped the girls’ heads in traditional scarves, and the boys put on a brightly colored shirt. The students even tasted a sweet treat from Africa called kashata.
The learning has just started! The Ambassador of Tanzania emailed Nelson to put her in touch with students from a local school in Tanzania. Now the Jacksonville second graders are going to write to their new pen pals far away. They will discover how different things are in Africa, but also how much they have in common with children all around the world.