TeachingTraveling.com: Today we have the pleasure of chatting with Vijaya Selvaraju, On-Camera Presenter for ProjectExplorer.org.
Welcome, Vijaya! To start off, please tell us what exactly is ProjectExplorer.org.
Vijaya: ProjectExplorer.org is a one-of-a-kind educational online resource that provides travel series to children, teachers, and families all around the world at absolutely no cost.
With 250+ videos, 1,200 dynamic images, 1,500 text-based materials, and 150+ lesson plans, we provide exciting content that fosters a zest for lifelong learning and global citizenship. To date we have filmed series in England, South Africa, Jordan, and Mexico and are scheduled to film this spring in Thailand.
TT: Awesome! Tell us about your teaching role and how that relates to and differs from the traditional traveling educator role.
V: I am an On-Camera Presenter and Educational Blogger with ProjectExplorer.org, which means I research, develop, script, film, and host compelling segments that showcase different aspects of the countries we visit. These are incorporated into an all-encompassing curriculum that teachers can use in their classrooms.
Unlike the traditional traveling educator, I do not have a physical classroom, nor a pool of students I interact with directly. I am a virtual teacher who can be accessed online at anytime. However, I do get to meet and interactive students during school visits.
TT: Fascinating! Where did your most recent project take you?
V: This summer we filmed in Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Merida and debuted the Mucho Mexico! series in New York City this September. The series covers everything from the mountaintop pyramids of Monte Alban, molecular gastronomy with celebrity Chef Enrique Olvera, and the history of piñatas. Students are loving it!
TT: I bet! So what is the difference between travel writing, educational writing, and travel blogging?
V: We write educational travel blogs, which incorporate a little bit of everything mentioned above. There are personal anecdotes, references to our surroundings and experiences, and most importantly educational material that ties back to our videos. Students feel like they are on an adventure with us, while they learn key facts about the places we visit.
For example, our video on Piñatas shows these vibrant and animated crafts on display and the process it takes to make one. In our accompanying blog, students learn their migration through history and the significance they held during the Spanish Conquest.
TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
V: This past June in Mexico, we visited the El Benito morning market in Merida. We rose at 3am to watch all the farmers trickle in with fresh produce while the rest of the city slept.
It was amazing to see the camaraderie amongst the vendors and the pride they had for their goods. The smells of freshly cooked tamales, cochinita pibil, and tortillas were a feast for the senses.
TT: Yum! So, how have your travels impacted you as a person?
V: Traveling has made me more appreciative of the world in which we live. It is too easy to exist in a bubble, but traveling has taught me to push my boundaries and be more open-minded to experiences.
With every person I have encountered, natural wonder I’ve seen, and culture I’ve embraced, I’ve learned something new. It has cemented my commitment to being a lifelong learner.
TT: Hooray! What’s on the tab for 2011?
V: 2011 is going to be an exciting year with several projects in the works. We’re re-releasing the South Africa series, filming and launching Thailand by the next academic year, and developing a sixth series in Central America.
TT: Fantastic! Readers, check out more about Vijaya and Project Explorer at ProjectExplorer.org! The resources on the site are educational, fun… and free!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is National Board Certified Teacher from Boston who has been a full-time public school educator since 2003. She launched Teaching Traveling in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational cartoons. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following on social media with the links below!