For families who miss packing up to take a winter trip, there’s an inspiring new way to travel the world thanks to Dave Ternier, and his girls Marika and Kiana. They have created Country of the Week, a means of virtual travel.
Country of the Week is a subscription-based, online tool that provides a weekly introduction on a specific country, along with printable activity sheets and family-friendly video recommendations for families to share in exploring new worlds together.
Concerned about the growing divisions in society and the impact that the news might have on his young daughters’ understanding of the world, this Dad committed to giving their girls exposure to all 200 countries in the world, one week at a time.
Since no program of its kind existed online, Ternier created the solution himself.
“There’s a big wide world out there to explore and I wanted my girls to have a better understanding of the planet as a whole,” said Ternier.
For over seven years the Terniers, Dave as wedding entertainment director and Kathryn, an RCMP officer, were part of the Virden community. In 2016 they and their girls packed up and moved to Minnedosa. Kathryn was transferred to Yellowhead Detachment and is currently serving in Shoal Lake as Corporal.
Years ago Dave began to use his own love of travel, his parenting perspective and communication skills to create Country of the Week when the girls were just five and seven. Their feedback, their interest to see what map would be up on Monday mornings, helped Ternier to develop gripping material geared primarily for children.
As part of the new Safe at Home Manitoba initiative, Ternier’s subscription-based program recently became free for all Manitobans. At the end of three months, if you like the virtual travel, there’s an opportunity to continue your subscription for just a few dollars per month.
For use at home, Country of the Week (COTW) brings families together to explore the world around them. Educators also like this program because it stimulates reading, enhances geography skills, and educates about the history, people, food, plants and animals of a different country each week.
People from around the world are engaging with COTW. Along with Canadians, there are families from the UK, USA, Australia and even Kenya.
Just a few minutes several times per week spent delving into a country can be satisfying. One family from Australia has a weekly routine. Once a week they cook the ecountry’s food. “That day they watch the recommended videos. After a meal they do the activities. It’s a weekly ritual. How beautiful is that?”
Ternier has always had a penchant for travel and a hunger for world knowledge. “I’ve always been fascinated with the world as it looks on a world map, even before I got married, before I had a family. Back home in Saskatchewan, I had this monstrous world map on my dining room wall and I loved it. We put a map up on our dining room wall, again when we moved to Minnedosa.”
From there, Terier’s “crazy idea” took root and is growing a following.
And, there’s more to come beyond the current format says Ternier. “This is the tip of the iceberg. Now that I’m this far into the project, I see other versions of it… a version for older students. There’s more to come.”