Pencils are a commodity easily forgotten about. Not all students can take such a simple tool for granted. Omicron Delta Kappa has organized a pencil drive to get this essential tool for students in Corazol, Belize for the past four years.
“A quality education begins with the right tools, as basic as they may seem,” said Hannah O’Daniel, senior and president of the Murray State chapter of ODK, said. “While writing implements are often overlooked in our society as mundane, children who cannot afford more than one pencil per year view these items as precious commodities.”
ODK, a national leadership honor society, aims to recognize campus leadership of exceptional quality and versatility in all aspects of college life.
The pencils collected by ODK will be delivered to Corazol by student-teachers who are traveling to Belize with Bonnie Higginson, professor emeritus in the education department, on the Belize International Teaching Experience study abroad program.
The Belize International Teaching Experience is currently the only Study Abroad program offered at Murray State with a teaching component. Through this program, students and teachers involved get firsthand experience in Belizean classrooms and a close look at the conditions in which Belizean students learn.
Previous participants in the program, both teachers and student-teachers, have recognized the need for writing utensils in Corazol, a relatively poor city in Belize.
Higginson said the schools in which Murray State student teachers are placed frequently lack technology and other common tools.
“They (student teachers) must be able to adapt to a very different and challenging environment,” Higginson said. “The program is truly transformational – all of the students have written about how they have grown, both personally and professionally.”
Higginson said teaching internationally is an important experience for future teachers to have, not only because of personal growth, but also because it is an opportunity to interact with and touch the lives of possible future transfer students.
The Belize International Teaching Experience had its inaugural trip in 2007 after a long road of organization.
Those involved in the Belize International Teaching Experience will travel to Belize April 26 and will deliver the collected pencils when they arrive. O’Daniel said ODK asks people donate whatever they can by the end of the drive, which is April 4.
Said O’Daniel: “By providing the students with something to write with, we can enable students to actively participate in their education.”
Story by Amanda Grau, Staff writer