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Hungry for a Night

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Edutopia features a fascinating video look at Heifer International’s Global Village in Perryville, Ak. A humanitarian organization, Heifer International works to end world hunger. The group is best-known for its work using donations to purchase livestock, like cows, goats and chickens, for residents of poverty stricken areas in 125 countries to provide a sustainable food source and sometimes a source of income for families. But here in the United States, the group also runs its Heifer Ranch in Arkansas as well as some other domestic learning centers.

The Edutopia video features a class of Colorado middle school students who spend 24 hours at the Arkansas ranch and spend the night in one of four areas designed to mimic conditions in Guatemala, Thailand, Zambia, a generic urban area, or a refugee camp. The students have to barter with each other for food, water and firewood, and have to cook their own meals. If they are chosen as part of the refugee camp, they can’t speak English in order to barter and don’t start out the evening with any supplies.

The impact the students’ experience has on them is well worth watching. Heifer International also provides a number of education-related activities on its Web site, including cool reading activities like these for students and some activities that can be incorporated into a middle school curriculum.

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I attended Heifer's Global Village a few years ago with some middle school kids from my church. It was amazing to watch the transformation these well-to-do middle class kids went through after one night. The best part of the experience was watching a high school group who were assigned to the well-to-do Thai hut spread their compassion to the entire village by taking in all comers for a wonderful feast that night. We could have bartered and fought and argued, but under the leadership of these amazing kids - we all had an amazing night of fun and fellowship and understanding.

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