“Why is the U.S. in another world?”– Featured article from the Chicago Tribune

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National Correspondent Stevenson Swanson

Geography and My
Wonderful World create a stir in the Windy City


My Wonderful World received a notable mention in one of
country’s most widely circulated newspapers this weekend. An article in this
Sunday’s Chicago Tribune explored geographic illiteracy, an important issue
facing the nation and central focus of the My Wonderful World Campaign. Citing
findings from the National Geographic-Roper Polls of national level and
international level knowledge, the article highlighted the efforts of various organizations to address the problem.

The My Wonderful World Campaign was granted a generous piece
of the attentional pie among the featured groups of educators and entrepreneurs.
What a sweet way to finish off the Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

 Read the full Tribune
article HERE.

In the article Terry Garcia, National Geographic Executive
Vice-President of Mission Programs, explained how the 2006 National
Geographic-Roper Poll helped fuel the creation of the My Wonderful World
Campaign: “We were surprised in the 2006 survey to see that,
notwithstanding the fact that there have been these cataclysmic events in the
world, there was still this lack of awareness of where these places were…It
shows how difficult this problem is, but also how critical it is to address

Others interviewed expressed similar sentiments: “Understanding
the world is increasingly important, and understanding geography is fundamental
to understanding the world” said Roger Andresen, a fiber-optics engineer
turned geographic puzzle-maker and founder of the company Broader View.

In addition to the My Wonderful World Campaign, the article
described a series of national and local initiatives to increase geographic
literacy. A national council of
geographic organizations and educators is supporting legislation called
“Teaching Geography is Fundamental” that would provide $15 million in
designated federal funds for geography education. We are proud to say that many
of our My Wonderful World Campaign members have been directly involved in these
efforts, both by writing letters to and personally meeting with members of
Congress in Washington.

At the local level, cities and communities are doing their
part by hosting public events and exhibits. Chicago is currently celebrating a “Festival
of Maps”
that began in early November (more justification for the creation of a
Geography Awareness “Month” as far as I’m concerned) and continues through the
entire year of 2008. Likewise, George Mason University in Virginia put on its own mini festival of
maps (giant maps of Asia that is) with their “World
Ball Night” community event on November 17th.

And of course, we’d all be a bit lost if not for the
thousands of educators who work at the most local levels to bring geography
into the classroom every day: I found one of the most compelling parts of the
article to be a story about an Illinois teacher who got students excited about
geography by examining the ingredients in a candy bar and the global supply chains
necessary to produce it. That teacher, along with all the other groups
referenced in the article, is clearly heeding the call to geographic action.
Now take this moment to consider: What are YOU doing to ensure that the U.S is not in
another world?

Global To-Do list:

  1. Join the My Wonderful World Campaign to receive regular updates on ways to give your kids the power of global knowledge and check out all the great resources on the My Wonderful World website.
  2. Tell Congress that “Teaching Geography is Fundamental” through our notify your lawmakers feature. Reference the name of the bill (Teaching
    Geography is Fundamental, H.R. 1228 and S. 727) and ask your legislators to
    support geography education.
  3. Did you know
    that half of young Americans can’t locate the state of New
    York on a U.S.
    map, and only 1 in 5 have a world
    map? Learn more about the 2006 and 2002 National Geographic-Roper Polls.

Our thanks go out to all those contributing to the cause for
geographic education, and to Stevenson Swanson of the Chicago Tribune for
featuring the My Wonderful World Campaign in his article. If you’re in the Chicago area, make sure
to stop by the “Festival of Maps,” it looks like an awesome event. I mean,
what’s not to love about a ‘festival’–somehow the term just connotes fun! And
what better geography fun than a festival of maps? If you can’t make it to the Windy City, visit the Festival online. There are worlds of information, videos, and
interactive resources at their website.

Sarah for My Wonderful World


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