Akash Patel is a Spanish teacher at Ignite Middle School in Dallas. He's also one of TIME Magazine's Innovative Teachers of 2022
Patel's lessons aren't limited to his classroom. Through his Happy World Foundation, he virtually connects students to the world around them.
"So we started connecting them with people from Asia, from Antarctica, where there were scientists taking selfies with penguins," Patel said.
Patel started his non-profit Happy World Foundation in honor of his late twin brother, Happy. It connects teachers anywhere to a free, open-source database where they can talk to 1,200 guest lecturers in 150 countries.
"When you see a human from another part of the globe, especially what they're living through, it inspires empathy," Patel said. "A lot of kids in the United States lack empathy for what's going on in South Sudan, in Syria, or Ukraine, but when they connect with humans from those parts of the world, they empathize, and empathy many times turns into action."
Patel said he's had students do toy and clothing drives for refugee children.
"Kids in a Title 1 school, who don't have much themselves in inner-city of Dallas, have realized that you don't have to be rich to make a difference in someone's life," Patel said.
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