The Santa Fe New Mexican (New Mexico)
June 29, 2005 Wednesday

PECOS HIGH SCHOOL: PECOS TEACHER TO SPEND THREE WEEKS IN ARMENIA

by SHANNON SHAW


Pecos High School English teacher Mary Beth Britton is one of 15
teachers chosen to participate in a three-week cultural exchange
program in Armenia as part of Project Harmony, an online discussion
course that pairs students with youths from other countries.

"I think it will be very interesting to see how people in another
country live," Britton said. "I think a person can learn so much
about themselves when they're put in such an alien situation."

Last year was the first year that Britton and her students
participated in Project Harmony with students from Armenia, which
borders both Turkey and Iran. Students chatted with each other online
about the problems in their countries, their different cultures and
also discussed literature and poetry, Britton said.

"In the spring, my June class participated in an online discussion on
social justice and children's rights," Britton said. "We prepped for
their live discussions by reading work on the issues."

As part of Project Harmony, teachers often visit the country with
which they communicated during the school year. Teachers stay with
host families -- teachers they will work with again during the
upcoming year -- and discuss lesson plans and concepts for their
students.

Britton leaves the United States on July 8. From New York City, she
will arrive in the Armenian capitol of Yerevan, where she will go
through an extensive orientation.

One component of Project Harmony "is not only to have the teachers
and students working together but to involve the community," Britton
said. "We're trying to come up with plans to involve community
members."

One plan is to have students from both groups -- in Pecos and Armenia
-- write about evironmental issues in their communities and to have
the students ask community members how to improve these situations,
Britton said.

"The trip to Armenia will be beneficial to the students," Britton
said. "I want whatever I come back with to involve every class in
Project Harmony."

Britton returns to Pecos on July 26, and she will begin planning
lesson for the next school year shortly thereafter.