LUMBERTON — Donovon Locklear is only 7 years old, but he would like to travel to Guatemala.
The second-grader took a virtual trip to the country when St. Pauls Elementary School celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. Donovon joined his class as they walked up a ramp into a building decorated like an airplane. The tour was complete with a captain announcement from the cockpit and a virtual in-flight video of the country.
“Guatemala has deer and nice animals and a big city,” Donovon said. “The best part was we got to make passports for the trip.”
Donovon’s tour guides for the trip were Laura Cruz, who teaches English at St. Pauls Elementary as a second language, and Leonardo Romero, the ESL teacher at Rex Rennert Elementary. Cruz was dressed as an airline stewardess and Romero was dressed as a captain or airline crew.
More than 1,000 students at St. Pauls Elementary boarded for the tour. Romero stamped each child’s passport as they prepared to board for their travel. The classes chose to travel to places such as El Salvador, Columbia, Peru, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Argentina, Chile and Spain.
“Basically what we are doing is designing a virtual trip to explore more than 20 Hispanic countries,” Romero said. “It is collaboration with the homeroom teachers. Before traveling they design a passport in the home room. They decide on which country to fly to, they research the country and then do a virtual field trip.”
Laura Cruz said she is sure the trip opened the eyes of the students to Hispanic culture.
“They can explore using data to check the population, they can explore in science, endangered species and typical foods. We are also exposing them to an airport and airplane procedures,” Cruz said.
Marsha Bullard’s second-grade class chose to study Guatemala for their Hispanic country.
“We used the encyclopedia and Internet to look up Guatemala. We talked about their government and their tropical forest. I have some things from Guatemala such as volcanic rock, snake skins and they were interested in those. They made their passports and their comments were, we want to visit the rain forest,” Bullard said.
Each class watched a video of their selected country and spent less than 10 minutes on the tour.
Cruz said this experience reveals more than culture.
“They find the different language, different dress, typical foods. More importantly there aren’t only tacos and enchiladas, but there are big cities and it has opened their eyes to all this richness we have here in the US,” Cruz said.
Tasha Oxendine, the public information officer for the Public Schools of Robeson County, contributed this story.