• In just five days, the students and staff of the East-West School of International Studies collected 1,500 pounds of non-perishable food for City Harvest, in honor of Kids Can Help Week. Although it has grown quickly since it opened five years ago, there are only 586 students in this small 6-12 international studies school in Flushing, Queens.

    So how did they do it?

    The East-West School represents one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the United States. Students prepare for a career in an international world by supplementing their studies with proficiency in an Asian language.  Along with this global focus, community, one of the school’s core values, is what pulls the school together. For this project, students from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds worked together to give back to their community.

    “We have had much more participation this year, from staff as well as students. I didn’t even have to ask all that much. People just wanted to give,” said Candi Braverman, a teacher who has been organizing the food drive for the past four years. “We also had fantastic volunteers who helped make it happen.” Students in Ms. Braverman’s 12th grade English class gave their time to make daily announcements, cover the halls with posters, and purchase healthy food using cash donations.

    The East-West School has been running an annual food drive since it opened, but this is the first year they accepted cash donations. Students who didn’t have cans of food could drop off their spare change. “Kids would stop me in the hallway and hand me money,” said Ms. Braverman.

    She recalls one 7th grader who decided to donate her entire allowance of $60. “I asked her, are you sure? And she just replied, this is my money and this is what I want to do with it.”

    The food drive ran from November 6 to November 10, 2010. City Harvest will distribute the food to those in need over the holiday season.

  • I didn’t know what to expect at the Imperial War Museum in London. I had passed it many times during my visits to London, but had never gone in, and it was not on my top ten things to do list; it was more on my “oops, I am leaving London and I wonder what is in that museum” list. The Imperial Museum is a fascinating place that all educators should go see, both alone and while teaching children. Human history is the history of war. This is a tragic but true fact of life. Upon entering the Museum, one sees the wreck of a car. It is a hulking, rusted wreck of a modern car, probably a Volvo. It appears to have been crushed in a junk yard and the viewer immediately begins to wonder what it is doing at the entrance of this museum. Two docents hover nearby, ready to explain. Like an onion, the history of the car is revealed as layer after layer is unfolded.
    The car was parked in a well-known book market in Bagdad. A car bomb exploded nearby. The air was sucked out of the car by the vacuum created by the explosion. Glass shattered. Thirty-eight people were killed by the blast. Many of those who were wounded later died of their injuries. Others were emotionally damaged forever, including one bookseller who lost four children in the blast.
    The blast was so unpopular that no one ever claimed responsibility for it. Who were the intended victims? Did it target the Shia who dominated the neighborhood? Did it aim for the intellectuals who shopped there for books in Arabic, Persian, English, French, Italian and other languages? Was it a message for the secular Iraqis who read books instead of the Koran? Did it aim to call attention to the origin of the street where it exploded, Al-Mutanabbi, a street named after a great Iraqi 9th century poet who once claimed that the words in his poems were greater than the words of the Koran?
    Officially, the car is known as “Baghdad, 5 March 2007: A New Display with Jeremy Deller” and is from his “It Is What It Is” exhibit which was on display in various venues in the United States before being donated by the New Museum of New York. More information is available at .