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GUATEMALA/MEXICO: COFFEE COUNTRY

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total length: 18:25

Clip 1 (length 6:11)
The human impact of the coffee crisis in Guatemala

Clip 2 (length 5:50)
How fair trade benefits some coffee farmers

Clip 3 (length 6:24)
Fair trade taking off in Mexico



Image from the storyTrack the Path of Coffee From Farm to Store Shelf

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 7-12

Themes:
Economics, Consumerism, Agriculture

The Activity
Relevant National Standards
Cross-Curricular Activities
Ties to Literature


The Activity


Share this quote with students and give them 5 to 10 minutes to react to it in writing.

Look at the things in your living room or refrigerator and realize they were made by thousands of people on different continents. The lemons we buy at the grocery connect us with a food chain, with people coming up from Mexico, being sprayed by pesticides. It's easier to see just a lemon, but only when we see the whole line can we feel connectedness and responsibility.

--Novelist Barbara Kingsolver

Invite students to share ideas from their responses and build on the concept that the world is deeply connected, but not always in the most obvious ways.

Next, have students work in pairs to complete the online activity Your Coffee Dollar.
pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/guatemala.mexico/coffee.html
As students explore, have them define these economic terms.

  • Price quota
  • Loss leader
  • Profit margin
  • Cost of production
How do student dollar allocations match up to reality? Discuss what happens to the price of coffee beans if production exceeds consumption. What are some of the ways coffee growers have reacted to low coffee prices? (See The Story
pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/guatemala.mexico/thestory.html
for more details.)

How do our decisions as consumers help or harm struggling farmers and factory workers in developing countries? Have each student think of one thing he or she can do as a consumer to help improve the quality of life of foreign farmers and factory workers. Compile a list of all the ideas and distribute it around the school and send a copy home to parents.

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Relevant National Standards


The following standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning), at http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/.

Economics, Standard 3: Understands the concept of prices and the interaction of supply and demand in a market economy

Economics, Standard 4: Understands basic features of market structures and exchanges

Geography, Standard 4: Understands the physical and human characteristics of place

Level III, Benchmark 1
Knows the human characteristics of places (e.g., cultural characteristics such as religion, language, politics, technology, family structure, gender; population characteristics; land uses; levels of development)
World History, Standard 44: Understands the search for community, stability and peace in an interdependent world
Level IV, Benchmark 1
Understands the influences on and impact of cultural trends in the second half of the 20th century
Level IV, Benchmark 6
Understands the role of ethnicity, cultural identity and religious beliefs in shaping economic and political conflicts across the globe

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Cross-Curricular Activities
Consider building on the themes of the above activity by working with colleagues in other disciplines to conduct the following activities.


Write Letters Describing Your New Capitalistic Lifestyle (English)

The Activity

After being ruled by strict dictators for a period of time, both Romania and Cambodia now participate in capitalistic behaviors that earlier would not have been allowed. Some Romanian girls, for instance, train to go be exotic dancers in Japan and Italy because they will be able to earn $1,000 a week, about 40 times more than they could make if they stayed in Romania. To get these girls' story, have students watch this video clip.

Story: "Romania: My Old Haunts"
At about 5:20 into the story
In: "My capitalist pal ..."
Out: "They are patriots."
Length of clip: 2 minutes
Also show this clip on capitalist activities conducted by the remnants of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Story: "Cambodia: Pol Pot's Shadow"
At about 14:10 into the story
In: "The remnants of the Khmer Rouge ..."
Out: "... mentally disabled man boxing a child."
Length of clip: 2:15
After viewing the clip, have the class discuss these questions.
  • What types of capitalistic activities have attracted some of the Romanian and Khmer Rouge people? Why those activities?
  • Does vice always have to play a role in a capitalistic society? Why or why not?
And finally, have students take the role of either a Romanian girl working as an exotic dancer in Japan or a member of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. In their assumed roles, students should write a G-rated letter to a relative or friend describing what they did last weekend and the economic benefits of their activities. Students should also describe how life is different now that their dictator no longer controls their activities.

Resources

The full stories are available on the Web on the streaming video page.
pbs.org/frontlineworld/watch/

Transcripts of each story are also available:

"Romania: My Old Haunts"
pbs.org/frontlineworld/about/episodes/102_transcript.html#romania
"Cambodia: Pol Pot's Shadow"
pbs.org/frontlineworld/about/episodes/102_transcript.html#cambodia

Visit the Web resources for each story for related links, facts, and features:

"Romania: My Old Haunts"
pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/romania/
"Cambodia: Pol Pot's Shadow"
pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/

Relevant National Standards

Language Arts, Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

World History, Standard 44: Understands the search for community, stability and peace in an interdependent world

Level III, Benchmark 6
Understands the emergence of a global culture (e.g., connections between electronic communications, international marketing and the rise of a popular "global culture" in the late 20th century; how modern arts have expressed and reflected social transformations and political changes and how they have been internationalized)

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Fight Poverty Wth Information on a Class Web Page (English)

The Activity

Explore what happens when poor children in India are given the opportunity to surf the Internet. Either watch the short (about 8 minutes long) film "India: Hole in the Wall" or have students read "Reporter's Notebook: Making Connections."
pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/india/connection.html
Ask students to think about what impact computer literacy could have on India's poor. Next, see what Web sites are the most popular with these children who live in poverty by looking at "Kids-Eye View."
pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/india/kids.html
And finally, work with students to design a Web page for these children to access that either introduces the students of your class to the kids in India or summarizes the most important links for the children to visit if they want to improve their economic situation.

Resources

Visit the "India: Hole in the Wall" Web resources to find the features utilized in this activity, to watch the full FRONTLINE/World segment in streaming video, or to gather related links and facts:
pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/india/

Relevant National Standards

Language Arts, Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

Technology, Standard 2: Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs

Technology, Standard 3: Understands the relationships among science, technology, society and the individual

World History, Standard 44: Understands the search for community, stability and peace in an interdependent world

Level III, Benchmark 6
Understands the emergence of a global culture (e.g., connections between electronic communications, international marketing and the rise of a popular "global culture" in the late 20th century; how modern arts have expressed and reflected social transformations and political changes and how they have been internationalized) ---

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