Heifer Ranch stay gives BV students new perspective

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Berryville GT students before entering the unknown world of Heifer Ranch. (Submitted photo)

An overnight stay at Heifer Ranch in Perryville has provided members of the sixth-grade Gifted and Talented class from Berryville Middle School with a new perspective on the challenges of overcoming hunger and poverty.

The sixth-grade GT class explored the effects of global poverty through Heifer International's Global Gateway program with guidance from the course instructor, Delene McCoy, Middle School principal David Gilmore and social studies/science instructor Russell Borland.

During their stay at the ranch, which includes a farm with gardens and animals, the students learned about several communities around the world that Heifer serves, including their culture, challenges and ways of life, McCoy said.

"We spent a night bartering for and preparing food like rice and vegetables over a fire and sleeping in shelters common in those communities -- from Appalachian cabins, to Thai bamboo houses, to shacks in urban slums that one might find in Haiti," McCoy said. "The students quickly grasped that the best way of making it through the night and having enough to eat was to share resources, barter for those needed, have a 'whatever it takes' attitude and to work together as a community."

McCoy also said the experience attempts to put students in the shoes of people around the world who are suffering from poverty, even as it becomes clear there are ways we can act to address this issue.

"I think many of us would like to say we can imagine how other cultural groups live their lives, but very few of us can actually say we can relate to them," she said. "At Heifer Ranch, students have the opportunity to actually experience a day in the lives of those who are different.

"Things we take for granted every day are some of the very things that others would love to have, even just for a day. This course is not set up just to make one aware of poverty and the hardships around the world; it is designed to help one become a knowledgeable world citizen.

"I believe any time we can get students out of the traditional classroom setting and out of their comfort zone, they have the potential for intellectual growth and self-examination," McCoy said. "This trip was challenging, fun and a bonding experience for the students, and staff as well."

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