Christianbook.com: Please tell us about yourself. Do you have any
children? What is your background?
Ann Jansen: My husband, Tim, and I have six children, ages 12 to 24. I’ve
taught private piano and guitar lessons and directed several choirs for many
years. We’ve home educated our children for 10 years. We started our GeoDeo
company to share our love of learning, music, and games with other families.
CBD: When did you become interested in foreign
Ann Jansen: When I was growing up, my parents traveled the world for
pleasure. When they returned from their excursions, they would show their
slides to many people. I sat through those presentations so many times that I
could give the talks. From these slides, I grew to love those places and knew
that I wanted to visit them. At age 16, I began traveling abroad.
CBD: There are few homeschool resources or children’s
books that deal with Africa. What gave you the idea to come out with such a
Ann Jansen: While educating our own children,
I mostly used unit studies. I would gather books on a specific topic and create
the study. When I tried to write an African unit study, I found very few
bright, positive books about Africa, so I saw that there was a need. I am also
sensitive to the fact that many home educators are on a limited income. I
wanted to create one book that truly represented the continent, so I included
information about the people and animals, art projects, stories from
missionaries, and LOTS of maps. I also created the supplemental materials that
I would have wanted—including lesson plans, music CD’s, worksheets, games, and
an art supplies kit.
Journey into Africa Resource Book
lists several contributing authors. Why did you choose other writers, and how
were they chosen?
Ann Jansen: I learn the most about other people when I
hear their personal stories, so I decided to use this approach. I knew which countries I wanted to include,
so I started searching and praying for people from these places to come into my
life. Amazingly, I found most of them rather
quickly, including missionaries and natives, by asking friends and experts on
Africa. However, I had difficulty finding someone from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire).
The book was “on hold” for nearly six months. My husband suggested that I leave
out that chapter because the book needed to get to the printer. I just couldn’t
leave it out. I prayed harder! My husband is a barber, and he started asking
his customers if they knew anyone from the DRC. Within a week, three people
called me, and we finished the book. It was a great lesson on patience!
CBD: Whether history, social studies, worldview
studies or church history, most homeschool curricula focus exclusively on
European or American history and achievements. What are some reasons for
studying African history and culture in depth, just like Western cultures?
Ann Jansen: Although Africa is the second largest continent, has a rich
history, is very diverse, and has made many contributions to the global world,
most Americans don’t know much about Africa beyond the stereotypes. I want
children to understand something about its history, including how the slave
trade, colonialism, and early Christian missionaries affect the present. I want
children to understand some challenges today’s missionaries face. I desire for
children to appreciate the many cultures, languages, traditions, religions, and
types of music and art. I hope to help children understand and love the
continent and feel a commitment to the continent.
CBD: Journey into Africa is a distinctly
Christian yet culturally sensitive look at Africa. Many Christian books seem to
lean towards a colonialist perspective, while secular books often endorse a
pluralistic view. As a Christian, did finding a balance come naturally to you?
Ann Jansen: Absolutely! All human hearts desire the same things: love,
truth, beauty, happiness, justice, etc.
The time and place varies, but not our God-given desires. To truly
understand and love other cultures, we have to look at all the aspects of their
lives, not just selected topics.
is plagued by hot-button issues such as AIDs, debt-relief, and fair trade. How
will an increased education for children help raise global consciousness and
further its development?
Ann Jansen: When we learn about any
country of the world and then hear about it in the news, suddenly, we feel a
personal connection, no matter how small, to that country. Again, understanding
Africa’s history would help people to see how these hot-button issues emerged.
As a result, if the child’s heart desires to help, action can take place.
you could pick the one thing you hope children will learn from Journey into Africa, what would it be?
Ann Jansen: I hope to teach children to love---to love God, themselves,
and others. Love generates love. When we understand Christian love, we are able
to look at others with love. As a result, mission and charity pour forth. I
want to help children love Africa and feel a connection to Africa’s people and
her children. Ideally, I’d like readers to someday help the people of Africa in
some way great or small.