VICENZA, Italy - Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, commander, U.S. Army Africa, treated 21 World Geography students from Vicenza Middle School to an in-depth geography lesson Tuesday.

Hogg brought a unique insight into Africa's culture and shared several souvenirs from his own collection to include various masks, money, jewelry, and a voodoo bottle.

Hogg said it was a great opportunity to interact with the middle school and talk about Africa. "When you're a dependent you travel the world, sometimes you can get focused on just one area like Germany and Italy," Hogg said.

"Understanding the bigger picture gives you more appreciation for the country we live in, the United States, plus it provides knowledge and understanding of world events conveying that we are truly a global environment these days and the more you know about other nations and other places the better off you'll be in the future," he said.

Hogg said it is a pleasure to be able to actually contribute to the education of the kids. Not only is it important for leaders, it is a responsibility for leaders to get involved in the education of our kids.

"Just like parents have a responsibility for their kids, I think leaders have a responsibility to reinforce some of those things that the parents provide and that our schools provide," Hogg said.

"When you throw something different out there, the kids perk-up and ask some really interesting questions - plus, it's fun, enjoyable and worthwhile," he said.

The commander is not the only one who enjoyed his time. Seventh grade student James Jones thought it was a pleasant surprise to have the commanding general take his teacher's place for a class. "It was good for us to learn a little bit more about Africa," Jones said.

"It gives us more insight into someone who has been to Africa because it makes it more real than simply studying it from a map and text book," he said.

The CG's souvenirs were a big hit with the students. "Since the general brought in some masks, coins and different things from the countries he has visited, I think that now I will start collecting more souvenirs from countries my parents take me to visit so I can show my friends," Jones said with a smile.

George Hanby, World Geography teacher at VMS, said his students have moved frequently and most have lived in different states, countries, and continents. For them to know more about the geography of the area they're living gives them a better appreciation of what they have available.

"My students learned a lot about what the general is doing - the connection he is making," Hanby said.

"One important item he said was 'building relationships,' and I think that's where you get right down to it - you can have different political views, different languages, different ethnic backgrounds, different environments, but if you build relationships with people and they know who you are then that's really how we make a connection in the world," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16