Ruth Fitts worked with embassies, scholars and people around the world to create and edit this book. From embassies that made sure their country was accurately represented, to natives who made musical suggestions and cultural corrections, each chapter was created with a multitude of volunteers.
Before starting this project, Ruth was the Director of Meridian International Center’s International Classroom, a geography education program with the mission to “bring the world into Washington, DC Public Schools.” She trained international diplomats and scholars to create exciting introductions to their home country and helped them present their culture to classrooms. She gave teachers’ workshops on globalizing their curricula and created “country culture boxes,” with hands-on materials for use in the classroom. She co-founded an International Children’s Festival involving 16 embassies in hosting a funfair for children to explore their countries. Ruth began this project to share her love of learning about other countries with a wider audience of kids across the United States.
Ruth grew up in Alabama. Through a mixture of divine providence and Turkish magic, she landed her first job out of college selling carpets in Istanbul, Turkey. Her boss said it was his worst month of business ever. Her failure in carpet sales led her to become an elementary school teacher in Istanbul. From there, she became an educator and avid traveler, touring 35 countries and living in two of them. She currently lives in Washington, DC and spends her free time working in the children’s room of a DC Public Library, giving story times and poring over children’s nonfiction.
Ruth became passionate about international education during her travels. Arriving in Yemen just days after 9/11, going overland down the coast of East Africa, or discovering the big cities of South America, she encountered a world more wide and welcoming than she had ever imagined growing up in the US. To her surprise, she found that none of her classes in International Relations had given her an understanding of the countries and cultures she visited. Her studies had looked at the world as a group of problems to be solved, not as peoples and places to get to know and relate to. This realization gave her a passion for international education that focuses on more than geographical features and problems around the globe.
Ruth believes that geography education should inspire kids to feel both fascinated by the world and at home in it. It should make them eager to know our international neighbors and to experience and learn from their cultures. She wants to give kids a world that is no longer foreign, but filled with a wonderfully diverse human family. She wants to gift them the world that she loves.