Nebraska Teachers and Students — the Impact of Global Travel

A group of children in Madagascar

A group of children in Madagascar.

My Month in Madagascar

By Lee Kallstrom – Teacher at Omaha North High Magnet School in the Engineering Magnet

Malaika’s Fund For Teachers allowed me to visit Madagascar to increase my knowledge of conservation, exploration, and nature to better educate my students in Omaha. I was most fortunate to combine my love for engineering in a project that we were doing regarding rocket stoves and reforesting rainforests in eastern Madagascar. I could never have hoped to travel to or spend such an educational and enjoyable time without the help of Malaika and Fund For Teachers. Our home for a week was in Kianjavato at the Amondson Field Station KAFS – supported by Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. Our kitchen had three rocket stoves which were used for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

We visited each of seven schools in the seven nearby villages. Students always gathered to great visitors, have their pictures taken and return to their classrooms.

Among the resident employees at KAFS were zoo researchers investigating the many Lemurs found only on this fourth largest island on earth.

On one of our trips to the village of Kianjavato we were able to purchase a jar of honey which was shared with the group at the end of the day. One of our favorite local boys was always found around the camp site, especially at mealtime.

One of the projects we shared with local school school children was planting citrus trees to help reforest some of the burned out rainforest. This project helped the young students understand the need for rain forests and the importance of maintaining trees for their homeland.

We traveled across the country to the spiny forest on the southwestern western region of the island. I spent ten days at Lavavolo, a small village near the coast of the It is home to the endangered Radiated Tortoise. This was one of the most enchanting and memorable places on earth.

There were many other wonderful experiences too many to describe without writing a book. The entire adventure was a once-in-a-lifetime. I was so grateful for the opportunity to visit this beautiful environment.

I have incorporated so many of the things I learned in Madagascar into my classes and have expanded my curriculum to include different needs that must be examined, for the wellbeing of our global community. Reforestation, clean water, education about both and how to engineer improvements in these rural communities are ongoing concerns.

After returning home I was surprised and delighted to be presented with the Malaika Nebraska Outstanding Global Educator award. I have it prominently displayed on my desk.

Lee with turtle

Lee Kallstrom

Lee Kallstrom

Lee Kallstrom

Lee Kallstrom

Special Thanks from Taylor Nicole Gee

“I wanted to thank you for your generous contribution to my trip to Ecuador. I was very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected for this funding.

I recently traveled to Ecuador to begin exploratory research on the country’s higher education system. Together with a small group of scholars and other graduate students like myself from across the U.S., I toured several university campuses throughout the South American country’s beautiful northern region to meet with administrators, faculty, students, and government leaders. Cross-national dialogue and idea exchange centered on student affairs and the impacts of recent government initiatives aimed at improving the quality of higher education in Ecuador. I am forever grateful for your financial help to make this journey possible.

International Education is my passion and where I see myself working for the rest of my life. The honor I have for study abroad is something I want to share with all students I work with. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.”

- Taylor Nicole Gee
Student Affairs Administration Graduate major from Lincoln, 2014 Fellowship Recipient to Ecuador.

Taylor Nicole Gee

In Joe-Ann's Own Words

"I find it truly amazing how profoundly the embracement of one small opportunity can affect the life of a student. If Mr. Rohde, my high school history teacher, hadn't told me about the World Food Prize or the Hank Beachell Fellowship, I would have never had the opportunity to attend the Youth Institute in Des Moines. I would have never applied for the Borlaug-Ruan Internship and spent two months in Kenya, conducting research and immersing myself in a totally foreign culture. In short, I would have never discovered my passion. One year later, the John Crystal Award, given to interns who best embody the commitment to ending world hunger, strengthened my resolve. Two years later, the memories are quickly starting to fade, but the underlying drive remains. To each and every student my advice would be: apply for the internship; it is an eye opening experience to say the least. And when you discover your passion, pursue it. Only good things can come from doing that which moves you."

"I am such a huge fan of Malaika; Nebraska students really benefit when they are given opportunities to see beyond their own backyards. I am sure I am just one of many examples of Malaika's positive effect on students. I was one of two interns to receive the Chrystal Award in 2010.

I have kept in touch with my teacher sponsor from Millard North and am so glad to hear that a Nebraska Global Youth Institute is up and running! Even though some students must now be turned away from going to Des Moines because of the increased interest, even the act of researching, writing a paper and attending the Nebraska version of the institute can have a profound effect."

Joe-Ann Moser

Joe-Ann Moser

The Importance of Travel

"Because of the generosity and support of the Malaika Foundation and Fund For Teachers, I experienced new lands and ideas, making friends among strangers and returning to the classroom with knowledge and enthusiasm that inspired curiosity and challenged students to create the change they want to see in our world."

- Jane Connealy

Jane Connealy