“We Are All About Geography”

Recently, Sven Lindblad, chairman of My Wonderful World coalition member Lindblad Expeditions, included this letter in Lindblad’s Explorations trip catalog:

    • Dear Traveler,

Some wonderful things happened in the last couple of days in Washington, D.C., and fortunately I was able to be part of them.

The first was the unveiling of a new public campaign entitled My Wonderful World. Launched by the National Geographic Education Foundation, the campaign’s goal is to vigorously promote geographic literacy at home, in schools and in communities.

A recent Roper poll provides alarming evidence that American youth leaving the educational system display a disturbing lack of basic, geographical knowledge about the world they will inherit. Of the young people (ages 18-24) surveyed, half cannot find New York state on a map. As Gary Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshops said at the unveiling, “They (American youth) can only be good global citizens if they know their world.” John Fahey, National Geographic’s President and CEO, went on to say, “Geography is what helps us make sense of our world by showing the connections between people and places.”

In any case, I urge you to explore the campaign’s newly launched web site, http://www.mywonderfulworld.org. You can even take a quiz to test your own geographic knowledge.

Last night’s event (a small gathering for 1,000 people) was for Mr. Gilbert M. Grosvenor, national Geographic’s Chairman, on his 75th birthday, of which more than 50 years have been dedicated to the Society. The birthday event, however, was just a pretext for the real mission—the launching of the Gilbert M. Grosvenor Fund for Geography Education. Mr. Grosvenor has long distinguished himself as the nation’s leading advocate for returning geography education to schools. Not only did we have a terrific, inspiring party, but $7 million was raised to kick off the endowed fund.

It was a privilege to be there with our National Geographic colleagues and I was delighted that Lindblad Expeditions could grant a new scholarship that provides two K-12 teacher scholarships each year, in perpetuity, to travel on one of our expeditions. The scholarships were presented as a gift on his 75th birthday and will be named in Mr. Grosvenor’s honor.

So as I wrote earlier, Washington had a couple of really good days.

You might wonder why I find this subject so compelling and important. It’s probably quite obvious. When we come together, we are all about geography and understanding the interdependence of our world, and the National Geographic Society is working tirelessly through these complementary initiatives, to help us and our children know it.

All the best,
Sven-Olof Lindblad,
Chairman, Lindblad Expeditions

The continuing success and growth of the My Wonderful World campaign is due to the work of all our coalition members—but most of all it’s because of people like you who have joined the campaign. Make sure to spread the word and tell your friends that you support geography education.

3 thoughts on ““We Are All About Geography”

  1. PassportM is offering a unique on-line (or DVD) resource that explores the world’s cultures. This interactive video adventure allows individuals to learn about their own backgrounds and exposes them to the cultures of their peers. The intent of this program is to 1) encourage cross-cultural communication and 2) foster a positive appreciation for ethnic diversity.
    This innovative experience uses exclusive video content to deliver its message through the universal language of music. Each unit contains approximately 8-12 short (1-2 minute) video episodes consisting of interviews with musicians from all over the world. Through their instruments and music, they tell the story of their cultures, customs, and rituals. Thus the title, “Travels with Music”. This is not a music course/program as such – we are using music as a “hook” to attract the interest of individuals and open them to learning more about social studies, history, geography, cultures and the arts.
    As individuals watch videos of the countries, read information about the geography, and hear the music of each culture that is being performed by the host musicians, they gain a sense of pride in their own background in addition to learning about the many rich cultures of the world. You can explore 2 sample units of TWM, featuring Peru and the Yunaan Province of China, by visiting http://www.travelswithmusic.org.

  2. I am a fifth grade teacher. Part of my curriculum is to teach geography. Can you suggest any field trips or web sites to visit?

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