Fun fact: My dad grew up as a missionary kid in a tiny Central American country called Belize.

Belize is the kind of place where many people live in remote, forested areas without access to basic services like running water or telephones. That was especially true back in the 70s, when my dad and his family were living there.

As you can imagine, that made everyday life interesting in all kinds of ways. Case in point: getting to school.

In honor of Education Month, I thought I'd share a story about a time my dad’s daily trip to school took an unexpected turn...

*cue storytime narrator voice, preferrably that of Morgan Freeman* 

Once upon a time, Hans' (eventual) dad and his brother were walking to the one-room schoolhouse where they and all the village kids went to school. Here's an old photo of the two of them in Belize to help set the scene. 

The boys' daily commute involved walking more than a mile on a dirt path, but they were used to it—how else to attend school in such a remote area?

Suddenly, they hit a roadblock—a cud-chewing, thousand-pound roadblock, to be exact. Cattle there were raised on the open range, and a particularly vicious-looking cow had wandered onto their path.

Fearing the cow might attack, the boys promptly scurried up a nearby tree. By the time they had mustered up enough courage to come down and blaze an alternate trail through two miles of jungle, they’d missed half a day of class.

*end scene*

As much as I love picturing the kid version of my dad climbing a tree to escape a mad cow, this story brings up an important point: In many parts of the world, millions of kids don’t have a school to go to, and those who do sometimes have to go to great lengths to get there. As we know, the inability to get to school is a big reason why more than 60 million kids worldwideare living without a quality education.

Without further ado, here are 6 examples of unusual or incredible school commutes around the world. As you look through these, think about how different your school experience might have been if your morning busride had been replaced by a jungle trek or precarious river crossing. 

1) Kids in Indonesia cross the Ciberang River on a collapsed suspension bridge en route to school. 

The alternative? A 30-minute trek to the next closest bridge.

Source: Reuters via Amusing Planet

2) No school bus? In Colombia, try a zip-line.

If you'd have told 10-year-old me that the only way to get to school was to zip-line across a thousand-foot gorge, I'd have dropped out and joined the circus. (There's video of this one as well.) 

Source: Christoph Otto via Bored Panda

3) These determined schoolkids are taking their commute to new heights. 

These students in Southern China scale more ladders than an arcade game character on their way to school. 

Source: Imaginachina/Rex Features via Bored Panda

4) All aboard the rubber tire. Next stop: learning.

Sort of like that lazy river ride at amusement parks, but way more necessary. These Filipino kids often can't risk going to school if the river is too flooded.

Source: NBC News via Amusing Planet

5) They're on a boat! Indonesian schoolkids take a nautical route to school.

This honestly looks like the lap of luxury compared to the collapsed bridge those other Indonesian kids have to deal with.

Source: World Bank - East Asia and Pacific on Flickr

6) In the Himalayas, the trek to school is a journey through ice and snow. 

Good news, kids! If current climate trends hold, in about 50 years your commute will be a whole lot less snowy (*sob*).

Source: Timothy Allen via Bored Panda

If these kids are willing to brave rickety bridges, raging rivers, and narrow mountain passes on their way to school, what's stopping you from showing your support for global education? Take a second to sign this petition in TAKE ACTION NOW demanding education for every kid, everywhere!


Defeat Poverty

If your commute to school was like this, would you still go?

By Hans Glick