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Learning in the community, as well as the classroom



History should be taught outside of the classroom, as well as inside it.  How can we try to understand the world, when we cannot see it in anything other than our books?  This is what the DP1 and DP2 History students from AIC practiced when they went outside of their classroom and had class in Starbucks, Wanda plaza instead.


Many students at AIC like to go to Starbucks; they are a luxury brand and very famous in China.  But how many of you want to know where the coffee they sell comes from?  Coffee has been a favourite drink of intellectuals and is originally from Ethiopia in North Africa.  It was made popular throughout the golden age of Islam, and moved into Europe during the Enlightenment, and is currently becoming more and more popular in China.  Learning how to make a cup of coffee properly is important if you are to enjoy it’s taste, and not just put so much milk and sugar into it that it becomes like liquid cake.


Our purpose for this trip was to learn about not only how to make coffee and why it is so popular, but to also learn about the process of growing and harvesting coffee in Ethiopia and Guatemala, and what life is like for the workers there.  Luxury commodities such as coffee, chocolate, tea, sugar and tropical fruit are often produced in very difficult working conditions, and the workers are paid only enough to just about feed their family.  Yet these commodities are sold at tremendous profit in China and the developed world.  Where does the money go?  Why do some people make so much money from this trade, and others so little?  Why is there such a difference between rich and poor people, and indeed countries?


These are the questions that are vital to understanding the history of the 20th century, a history of trade, technology, international co-operation and international conflict. There is no better place to learn about the inequalities in our world today than by researching the countries written on the back of a packet of Starbucks coffee.

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