Brooksville Elementary School global lab teacher Kathy Gates slipped out of the country for a few days during the summer to learn about our huge neighbor to the north and bring that information back to her students.
Western Washington University offers the "Study Canada" program to U.S. teachers at the elementary through secondary school levels.
The focus was to study and contrast the two governments and, Gates said, "to train U.S. teachers about Canada to teach our students, because Canada's not really taught in most places."
She learned some interesting things. Canada is the United States' biggest trade partner, not China as one might suspect.
"Trade with Canada is an extremely big deal with the U.S.," Gates said. The Unites States gets wood, car parts and oil sand from its northern neighbor.
"Canada has only one-tenth the population that we do," she said. "Its motto is Peace, Order and Good Government. You feel it when you go to Canada. It's just peaceful."
Gates spent most of the time in the capital city of Ottawa and one day in Montreal. "Ottawa has a very European feel," she said. "This is a bilingual country. All students learn English and French."
This is Gates' second learning trip to Canada. She learned about Vancouver a couple of years ago.
"The project is top-notch, and I wanted to see another section of Canada and appreciate it," she said. "These programs bring in the experts to teach us."
Back at Brooksville Elementary, Gates hopes to instill in her students an appreciation of how the world carries on its business, she said.
"This is the global lab, and these kids learn about countries around the world,'' she said. "We're constantly learning about how places around the world are different than us."