World Mural Project at Ohlone Elementary School

Last Update: 5/14/2014 8:59 AM

By Meredith Vostrejs

To raise global awareness, NCPCA supported the painting of a world map mural at Ohlone Elementary School in Palo Alto. The world map project is a Peace Corps tradition, started by a PCV in the 1980s and carried out in over 40 countries. The world map aims to build geographic literacy and community, and it is achieving its goal at Ohlone Elementary!

The mural at Ohlone was coordinated by RPCVs Dan and Meredith Vostrejs (St. Vincent & Grenadines 1994-1997), whose two children attend Ohlone. The map project grew out of Ohlone Elementary's Global Awareness Week, which occurs every year in addition to ongoing activities the students engage in to raise awareness about local and global issues. Dan painted a world map during his Peace Corps service with his secondary school students nearly twenty years ago; both were pleasantly surprised by the interest and focus the younger Ohlone elementary school students displayed.

Families and RPCVs were invited to help paint over several weekends. Dedicated students (from kindergarten to high school Ohlone alum!) were so motivated they finished the mural ahead of schedule. South Bay Rep Rustin Crandall and his wife Laura helped paint (see photo below). The majority of the work was done by a few very hard working students, while adults helped coordinate, provided snacks, and did touch ups. It was truly a group effort!

Families wander by the map and point out where their families are from or where they are going on vacation. For example one student looked for Latvia, where his grandparents came from, and another family pointed to Mozambique where they just relocated from. A family from islands off of Madagascar ensured their small home country was represented. The process and final product have encouraged people to meet new families and learn about the rich diversity at Ohlone. It is already creating a sense of community, albeit a global one!

Next year Ohlone plans to develop activities for the classes to utilize the map. Ideas include showing where families are from during Global Awareness Week to labeling where different penguins live as studied in K/1 classrooms. As with Peace Corps, the impact is great and the possibilities await!

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