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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 countries?

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 comprehensive study?

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.

 

CBD: The 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.

CBD: Africa 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.

CBD: If 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.


 

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