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Largest Donation Ever From High School Students

Found in: Classroom Management

Her students gave the largest donation ever made by a U.S. high school to help clear mine fields in southeastern Africa.

Colorado teacher Christine Sundberg emphasizes that her mission is to inspire the students to whom she teaches African History in the Hinkley School's International Baccalaureate Program.

The students' inspiration has carried them far—they planned and carried out a project to raise funds and awareness to combat the international problem of clearing land mines. The project included

  • An eight-mile walk to raise money from sponsors and raise awareness of the international land mine problem
  • An African dinner where the students decorated the table with African fabrics and presented a slide show
  • A land-mine awareness day at school, where some to the students simulated what it would be like to go through the day with the type of injuries that land mines inflict.

The students even created a Web page to share their activities and personal perspectives.

These efforts raised $6,000 for Adopt-A-Mine, run by the United Nations Association of the U.S.A. This, the largest donation ever made by a U.S. high school, was combined with other monies to clear a minefield in Mozambique. Sundberg then arranged to accompany two of the students to watch the minefield's clearing and interview a land mine victim.

Newspapers and television picked up the story. Congressman Thomas G. Tancredo (R-CO) paid tribute to the project in Congress, and United Nations Outreach and Communications Coordinator Zach Hudson commended the fundraising at a ceremony at the school. Paul and Heather Mills McCartney recognized the effort in their work with the U.N. Adopt-A-Landmine's Night of a Thousand Dinners project. More than one minute of a seven-minute promotional video was dedicated to the Hinkley students and Sundberg.

Her Continuing Focus on Africa

In 1995, Sundberg's career as an educator took her to the International School of Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where the taught in an International Baccalaureate program. During her two years there, Sundberg helped sponsor community service at Mother Teresa's outreach in Tanzania and at the Kindwitwi leper colony. She was also named Teacher of the Year.

At Hinkley High School, Sundberg provided a resource for an increasing number of African refugee or immigrant families who spoke Swahili while she promoted historical and cultural understanding by organizing an African discussion club. She also sponsored a multicultural club, RUSH, which led to a schoolwide multicultural assembly. RUSH promoted awareness of the diverse student body that encompassed more than 40 languages and even more cultures.

In addition to her educational responsibilities at the Hinkley School, Sundberg is an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. There she teaches African history, the history of South Africa, African independence movements, and Africa in novel and film.

The Aurora Sun Sentinel named Sundberg their 2004 Critics' Choice Best Teacher. The article noted, "Sundberg said she believes in teaching students about problems, and then not only teaching them how to find solutions, but requiring them to be the solutions themselves."

About the Author

Christine Sundberg is the 2006 winner of the Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding Award, presented to an NEA member, local affiliate, and/or NEA state affiliate whose activities in education contribute to international understanding and motivate youth to work for world peace.

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