Raleigh, N.C. — A unique online program is letting some Wake County students visit eight countries, with the goal of expanding their worldviews.
Three recent graduates of North Carolina colleges, Saurabh Aneja and twin brothers Jacob and Joseph Davis, shared a desire to bring younger students in direct contact with foreign cultures.
"We love traveling, and we love sharing the different cultures," said Joseph Davis, who graduated from North Carolina State University. His twin and Aneja graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Together, the three founded a cultural exchange program called Project Worldview. They hope to excite children about foreign language education by showing them foreign countries.
As the trio is touring Europe, they are using their Web site, blog and Web chats to share their travels with students at Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary School and Broughton High School in Raleigh and at Clyde Erwin Elementary School in Jacksonville.
Recently, the men were in Denmark and used a Web conference to talk directly to and answer questions from third graders at Brooks Elementary.
"What kind of sweets do they eat in Denmark?" one student asked.
"Really, chocolate is one thing you'll see everywhere in all the stores," Jacob Davis answered.
A high-tech set-up facilitated the Web conference at Brooks Elementary. Federal funds for magnet schools purchased a SMART Board, an interactive whiteboard that displays computer programs; Wake schools technology bond money paid for a laptop; and the Parent Teacher Association bought a Web cam.
However, all a classroom needs is Internet access, the Project Worldview organizers said. UNC's N.C. Center for International Understanding provided software that enables the travelers to do a Web presentation to any place connected to the Internet.
The Davis twins and Aneja are also supported by host families who let them stay at their homes during the men's travels. Project Worldview is funded by donations and money from the men's own pockets.
They will visit the classes with which they have been talking when they return in May.
The three friends said they hope their talks and travels will inspire the younger students to see the world.
"I think it would be pretty cool, and I might want to do that when I grow up," Brooks Elementary third-grader Madison Steed said.
"It's just so exciting to share something that you enjoy and love doing with people," Jacob Davis said.