Building Bridges, by Coleen

Jim and Jini Johnson

Jim and Jini Johnson

There is a bridge that stretches from a senior living community in Minnesota to a 6th grade classroom in Niger. Across this bridge travel hopes, support, gratitude, and good wishes. At one end of the bridge is Jim, a retired engineer and World War II veteran whose passion is encouraging young people to see the beauty and potential that science and engineering offer. At the other end is a group of Nigerien youth who decided to see for themselves.

Jim provided our volunteers with enough materials for the entire 6th grade class to build, from plans he had painstakingly prepared, models of two different kinds of bridges. He hoped they would see how useful this knowledge could be to them as they work to improve their community.

The project began with ten students, who carefully and successfully reproduced the bridges Jim had designed. Their teacher was invaluable as he helped the volunteers guide the students in this task. None of the students had ever worked with glue and popsicle sticks before!
They cooperated beautifully to build their bridges, and the teacher was truly grateful to have enough materials to be able to continue the lesson with the rest of his class.

This bridge between cultures, between generations, and between nations is beautifully made. When people want to help each other and learn from one another, things like age and nationality don’t really matter.

Building bridges

Tsibiri school students and teacher, building bridges