From the grand fjords of Norway to the largest rainforest in the world, students of Central Valley High School’s world geography class all had a piece of the planet to research.
Students picked a country and spent the semester studying the culture, region, religion and reasons for tourism. The culminating project: a World’s Fair featuring about 30 countries.
“I want them to see beyond the Pacific Northwest and that the world is a big place,” said Krista Larsen, world geography teacher. “They don’t necessarily have to agree with all cultures, but they can have a respect and understand why we’re different.”
With so many countries to choose from, it was a challenge for some to decide, but sophomores Blake Sattler and Austin Davis simply waved their mouse cursor around a world map and selected Belgium.
The fair is packed with students and presenters ready to say why they chose that country and its specialty. For Belgium, Sattler and Davis shared waffles glazed with chocolate and maple syrup.
Sattler said the Festival of the Cats, a parade in Ypres, Belgium, stood out to him. It’s thought the town had a rat problem, he said, and they brought in cats to hunt down the pests. The cats were allegedly thrown from a tower after fixing the rat problem, Sattler said. Now they use plush toy cats, to celebrate the occasion.
Hannah Van Matre brought people back halfway across the globe as she shared her knowledge of Brazil, a devoutly Christian nation with a republic form of government.
She also brought along a mounted and preserved piranha: “It’s all real except the eyes are fake.” It’s a souvenir from a friend’s trip to the South American country on loan for her presentation.
There was an interactive component as well. Van Matre showed off a popular Brazilian toy, which is like a Hacky Sack with feathers. You simply kick it.
Food samples sweeten the meandering around the classroom as students find a presentation that interests them.
Though reluctant, Jordyn Bridgens shared Vegemite, a popular Australian spread made from yeast extract.
“They put it on bread and crackers. It’s awful. It’s nasty. It smells awful,” Bridgens said. To wash it down, she had samples of ginger beer and peach soda.
After five years, this is the last year Larsen gets to wrangle this class project, she said, because the state’s curriculum is being changed to encompass world history.
This is their send off, she said. Using what they learned over the semester, it will prepare them for their final class project: a bucket list for travel.
Students will choose 10 places from at least four continents and explain why they want to travel there, Larsen said.