Competition will take place in February in capital city of Doha

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FARMINGTON — A group of Mesa View Middle School students is preparing for a trip across the world to participate in an international competition and learn about Middle Eastern culture.

The five eighth-grade students on the #MIJJAT Destination Imagination team are raising money to attend the 2016 Destination Imagination International Invitational in Qatar, according to Amanda Champany, the school's gifted education teacher.

The Farmington team competed in May at the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn., and an open invitation was issued to those teams to apply for the international event, Champany said in an interview earlier this month.

Fifty teams worldwide will be accepted for the competition in February in Qatar's capital city, Doha.

Champany said it’s a great opportunity for students to experience a different culture.

The trip will cost about $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the number of students, parents and chaperones. To raise money, students are planning to host a drawing that includes prizes like an elk hunt. They also intend to visit local businesses to raise funds.

Destination Imagination is a nonprofit group that organizes academic competitions to challenge students’ creative and collaborative problem-solving skills. Teams of students complete challenges in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as in service learning, visual arts and improvisation.

The International Invitational is designed to introduce students to other cultures and celebrate creativity, according to Britt Dyer, Destination Imagination director of strategic partnerships and events.

Last year’s invitational, which took place in Beijing, China, included 25 international teams from Canada, Poland, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, Qatar and the United States, and 540 Chinese teams, Dyer said in an email on Tuesday.

In an interview earlier this month, Mesa View students shared their excitement about visiting a new country.

Marissah Pacheco said she has learned a lot from competing in Destination Imagination events.

“We learn about completely different things we wouldn’t learn in the average classroom,” Pacheco said. “All of us didn’t know each other until we got into DI, and now we’re just like best friends.”

Taiz Rodriguez has already started researching customs in Qatar. She said she learned it is disrespectful to eat with your left hand, which may be tricky for her, since she's left handed.

The Farmington team will be assigned a team from Qatar as part of the Buddy Team program. Champany said she plans to bring green chile and piñons to share with the host team as part of a cultural exchange.

For more information about fundraising and the trip, email Champany at achampany@fms.k12.nm.us.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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