By Staff

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas ISD foreign language teacher is giving his students the opportunity to “travel around the world” virtually.

With some creativity and technology, Akash Patel is on a mission.

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He said he has had the privilege of traveling to more than 50 countries and wishes his students could have the same opportunity.

“I teach at a Title 1 school, a campus with 100% free or reduced lunches which tells you the demographic of my scholars,” he said.

Since international travel is not an option, the Ignite Middle School foreign language teacher turned to technology.

“I have this personal network of people from everywhere around the world,” he said. “We created a database of over 1000 volunteers from 150 countries.”

Akash Patel (credit: Happy World Foundation)

In 2014, Patel’s launched a nonprofit, Happy World Foundation.

It connects students to the volunteers through virtual visits. They learn about their countries, cultures and languages.

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“A, it inspires empathy for our kids to be grateful for what they have in America,” Patel said. “B, it helps them fight bigotry and prejudice and to see that all of us are the same.”

The virtual visits have been a hit.

“I saw the spark in the kids and that spark inspired me to grow this into a movement,” he said.

Patel has opened his database up to all teachers in the United States and so far, more than 40,000 have utilized it.

“The joy that something like this brings to a scholar’s life or to anybody’s life is unparalleled,” Patel said. “It gives me unmatched satisfaction and joy.”

For his contributions, Patel was recently named one of the International Literacy Foundation’s “30 Under 30” for 2021.

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