Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sewickley Academy Senior Links Fifth-Graders with Students in Nepal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sewickley Academy Senior Links Fifth-Graders with Students in Nepal

Article excerpt

Margaret Weber attends high school at Sewickley Academy, but recently her focus was on a school in Nepal, a small country in south Asia. Through an independent study course, Margaret created a program to link grade 5 students at the academy with children in the SAV School in the village of Bageshwori, east of Kathmandu.

Margaret, 18, a senior, taught the fifth-graders about the everyday life and education of their peers in Nepal and helped them raise over $600 to purchase a solar panel for the SAV School.

The project started when Margaret read the book, "Little Princes" by Conor Grennan for her independent studies.

"The book was so fascinating. Grennan talked about how children were taken from their families for human trafficking in Nepal," she said. Mr. Grennan started a nonprofit organization Next Generation Nepal to try to reunite these children with their families.

Working with her teacher, Michael-Ann Cerniglia, the two found Govinda Prasad Panthy, founder and director of the SAV School. Connecting through social media, Margaret and Mr. Panthy began conversing about how Margaret could assist their foreign neighbors.

"We talked for about a month and started discussing ways we could connect our students with his so we could learn about the Nepali culture and share our culture with his students," Margaret said.

It was a big undertaking. After communicating with Mr. Panthy, Margaret started teaching the grade 5 students about Nepal, the SAV School and life for students there.

"I told them about the school and how Govinda started the school in 1998 with only 13 students," Margaret said.

"Before that, there was no school at all."

Margaret also created a blog so the students could communicate.

"There is a 13-hour time difference, so even though I could video- conference with Mr. Panthy, the students couldn't really communicate live," she said. The blog, Joining Hands 7,642 Miles Apart, enabled the students to communicate on a regular basis.

Ms. Cerniglia wasn't surprised by Margaret's determination. …

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