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Friday, March 27, 2009

Imagine the world as a village of 100 people...

This is a great little experiment that I do every summer with my Lil' Sprouts Program. I give each child 100 pennies in a paper cup. And then we begin...

Imagine that we could reduce the world’s population to a village of 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same. The demographics would look something like this:

The village would have:

60 Asians

14 Africans

12 Europeans

8 Latin Americans

5 from the USA and Canada

and 1 from the South Pacific

... we spread the pennies around on our world maps.

OK, 51 would be male, 49 would be female

82 would be non-white; 18 white

(That gets a wow! here in New Hampshire.)

33 would be without access to a safe water supply

39 would lack access to improved sanitation
( I explain what that means.)

24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76 that do
have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)

only 7 people would have access to the Internet

and 1 would have a college education

5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens

and 67 would be unable to read, ever!

That's where we pause. This year marks the 15th season I have created and facilitated a Lil' Sprouts program at our local natural history museum, The Libby Museum. It's all about embracing earth-friendly concepts of diversity, oneness, community, respect, and tolerance through multicultural, age-appropriate literature. I throw in a generous dose of art, music, and a hands-on, active learning approach. Sticky, muddy, messy fun!

Lil Sprouts are asked to create a community where all creatures are embraced for their similarities and appreciated for their differences. The emphasis is on understanding differing points of view and creative peace-making. The Sprouts know the importance of books. Sharing ideas. Getting to know about the world. Caring about the world.

And we vote on what do to with the pennies.

I highly recommend this book:
If the World Were a Village
David J. Smith & Shelagh (ILT) Armstrong

There are currently more than six billion people on the planet! This enormous number can be difficult to grasp, especially for a child. But what if we imagine the whole world as a village of just 100 people?

In this village 20 earn less than a dollar a day, 17 cannot read or write.

In a time when parents and educators are looking to help children gain a better understanding of the world's peoples and their ways of life, If the World Were a Village offers a unique and objective resource. By exploring the lives of the 100 villagers, children will discover that life in other nations is often very different from their own. The shrunk-down statistics will encourage readers of ALL ages to embrace the bigger picture and help them to establish their own place in the global village.

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