Tag Archives: education

We learn a little more each time…

Alas, we won’t be meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

dalai lama

Even when we don’t “win,” we love writing grant and contest applications. The experience forces you to define and re-define what you’re trying to do in the world, how you will go about it, and results for which you aim. If we hadn’t recently entered the Compassion & Technology Contest from Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, we may not have discovered this wonderful quote from center director Prof. James Doty: “[Compassion] . . . is that key that will address the issues that we all think are isolated issues, such as global warming, war, conflict, poverty . . . These are problems of the human heart.”

That one quote again affirmed that we’re on the right track with our program The Global Class & Any1Can Project, which helps teachers and students become familiar with seven complex global issues that touch every community on the planet: poverty, education/literacy, hunger/nutrition, water/infrastructure, environment/sustainability, social attitudes/prejudice (tolerance) and peace/conflict resolution.

In our application, we made the case that schools help infuse youth with a spirit of responsibility and skills to engage in service projects. However, studies by the Corp. for National & Community Service indicate that during the 2000s, the percentage of schools integrating service learning into classroom academics declined. Service is widespread, but not service learning – with calls for investigation, preparation/planning, action, reflection and learning demonstration/communication. Fewer principals and teachers engage in and sustain academic-based service learning (especially global service learning) when faced with budget cuts, lack of easily accessible materials, and a sense of overwhelm.

We proposed transforming The Global Class & Any1Can Project Resource Guide into an iBook linked with an online learning management system. In 2012-13, more than 10,000 teachers utilized our Resource Guide and professional development support. Participating in the Compassion & Technology Contest helped us clarify how the Apple iBooks format could expand and add interactive flexibility to the Resource Guide as a unique, multi-touch format with video, diagrams, 3D objects and movies and facilitate engagement in Apple-compatible Smart classrooms and through Smartphones and mobile devices.

Perhaps, though, our biggest learning was how generous experts are with their time in an effort to make a difference to young people. We wouldn’t have dared apply if it weren’t for Adam S. Brooks, a professional who understands technology application to education pedagogy and extensive experience as a senior developer, learning content manager, and systems administrator on eLearning initiatives. He volunteered his time and counsel without hesitation. And we are grateful.

Now, we just need to find another way to get support and funding to put the idea to work!

Bol Maywal’s Story

By Patricia Shafer

I’ve known Bol for about two years now, but this past Sunday was the first chance I’ve had to hear him speak about in a public setting about his experience as a southern Sudanese refugee. Education Program Bol Maywal LebanonManager Elizabeth Peacock and I made a detour on our drive from Charlotte, NC, to Washington, DC and Baltimore, to hear him speak. We sat in the front row with his mother Adout. I was reminded that even though he has been in the U.S. for 12 years now, and the story of young men affected by the past civil war in Sudan has been told many times, every story is unique and every telling is fresh depending on who is listening. In one PowerPoint slide, Bol shared the only photo his family has of time spent in a refugee camp in Egypt. He described a nearby church that in many ways and on many days felt like the only safe harbor in life’s storm. He acknowledged his mother for raising her children and guiding them well in the United States even though she arrived not knowing how to speak English or read and write her name – reality for most women who come into adulthood during war and the aftermath of fleeing it. He beamed with obvious pride at the slide that shows him being commissioned for his entry as an officer in the US Army, a role he officially takes up this January 2014. I’ve been told that southern Sudanese culture places a high value on someone’s story, and it’s important that when someone starts to tell their’s you give them the room to start and finish. I look forward to hearing more about Bol’s.

Scholarships Change Lives

Patricia Shafer writes…

I sometimes think “seeking sponsors” is the hardest phrase in the English language to write. Our volunteer catalysts and I have visited projects where children are in such extreme need of educational support – Rwanda, South Sudan, Liberia . . . – there’s no doubt that scholarships make a huge difference. But what if you haven’t been there? How do I convey to you that there’s something special, unique and useful about scholarship support in faraway places? Then, I get over myself, just share what I know, and hope for the best. For example:

In Rwanda, the 1994 genocide left behind a population that’s 70 percent female. When the bloodshed stopped, women picked up the pieces to rebuild. Today, there are still more women than men. A Rwandan saying is that a woman is the heart of the house. There are more women in Rwanda’s parliament than any other country in the world. The scholarships that we directly ask Mwiko kids at school FBpeople to support in Rwanda go only to girls. At Mwiko Primary School, where our efforts in Rwanda began, 6th grade girls in the Top Ten of their class would not be able to go to secondary schools without scholarships. Their families are too poor. We send every girl who is sponsored to the Institute for Women’s (IWE) Excellence, the only all-girls’ private school in Rwanda that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. We’re also beginning to collaborate with nonprofits Seeds of Hope and ALARM to help make sure that girls who graduate from IWE will be guaranteed access to a specially-designed year-long institute to prepare them for lives as influencers. Today, there are more women in Rwanda’s parliament than any other country in the world.

Okay, writing the above, my angst is gone. If you’ve ever thought for even a moment about becoming a scholarship supporter, let us know. Indeed, write me directly and I’ll personally identify candidates for you. pshafer@motheringacrosscontinents.org

 PatriciaShafer sig

 

Change girl’s lives, improve communities

The UN recognizes October 11th as International Day of the Girl. This day is set aside to recognize the unique challenges girls face around the world.
 
While it’s true that in many parts of the world BOTH boys and girls don’t have access to education and literacy, girls are disproportionately disadvantaged in many communities. For instance, in the villages where we build schools in South Sudan, only 2 percent of boys traditionally graduate from primary school. Hard to imagine it could be worse for girls, but it is. Historically, only 1 percent of girls with finish the sixth grade.

Absent change, the long-term negative impact on communities can be devastating. Dreams and a sense of empowerment and self-reliance never develop.
 
That’s why several of our projects focus on providing a stable learning environment for girls and young women. We think it’s a moral imperative and a natural part of a “hand up” vs. “hand out” development strategy. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary school level, reduces numbers of early pregnancies, HIV/AIDS infection rates, and infant mortality. Data from the World Bank and IMF suggest that literacy and access to vocational education for girls can improve the overall GDP of a community. As a tool for transformation, educated girls help fuel democratization and income equality – societal qualities that help achieve stability and sustainability.
 Girl Rising Photo
High Hopes Haiti is a flagship example of efforts by Mothering Across Continents project catalysts like Courtney Jackson to empower high school girls and young women. In a community of rural northern Haiti, four workshops have been delivered to help participants dream about the future, imagine careers, and identify skills they need, specifically English, computer literacy and small business management. In August 2013, a record 30 participants completed a three-week institute as a foundation for a year-long program of English, computer and small business training. Find out how you can be a part of our GlobalGiving campaign and positively impact the life of a girl at: http://goto.gg/14935.
 
Join us in celebrating International Day of the Girl!