Jungle to tundra
Teaching kids about each other

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Oct 06/99) - Becoming a world traveller was the last thing American Paul Hurteau was thinking about when he decided he wanted to be an English teacher.

But, life has a funny way of putting unexpected bends in one's journey and the Ballston Spa, New York, native found himself teaching English in Kenya, Africa, from December 1988 to June 1991 as part of the World Teach program.

"I really enjoyed my time there. It was a great learning experience," says Hurteau.

"It was a small rural school and I got to know the kids really well. I also learned the local languages of Swahili and Luo."

When Hurteau couldn't find a teaching position right away after returning to the States, he began writing about Africa and producing slide shows.

The focus of his work was to inform local kids about African culture and its animals.

His work became so successful, Hurteau started his own business performing his programs.

Hurteau taught in the States for another three years, then it was off to the rainforest of Ecuador for more learning.

After combining his rainforest knowledge with that of Africa, Hurteau developed his own Web site.

While looking for links to his home page one day, he came across the Leo Ussak elementary school in Rankin Inlet.

"I was in contact with the principal there, Cheryl Forbes, and Merv Tulloch, about creating a link when they invited me to come here to do my school programs.

"The kids in Rankin really took to my programs well. My slides present Africa and the rainforest through the eyes of my students who live there and they really seemed intrigued by that."

Hurteau didn't spend enough time in the Kivalliq to add a program about this area to his collection, but he hopes to return in the future for a longer stay.

"The kids here did a bunch of drawings and paintings for me and I'll be taking them back to the rainforest with me.

"I do an Art Exchange program and the kids there will do the same thing and we'll exchange work.

"I'll also be able to add these drawings from the Rankin kids to the section of my Web site where visitors can access drawings by kids in Africa, across the U.S. and the rainforest.

"I'm also looking forward to sharing my poems about Arctic animals with the kids in the rainforest when I get there. I know they'll really enjoy that."