How the Internet Creates Possibility

How the Internet Creates Possibility

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ekcenter

Folks, I support the Ekialo Kiona Center (EK Center) and the Organic Health Response, and they're creating real change. I get updates every so often, and I like to share the good work they're doing. They seek to activate information technology, social solidarity, and environmental sustainability to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS across Lake Victoria (in Kenya).

The EK Center's seen, first hand, how tech can turn a community into a global village, how a lizard in the security shed can shut everything down, and just how important local-global youth development is. This most recent update was about, both, turning a community into a global village and furthering development of youth locally and globally…

Pen Pals Meet via Global Broadband Connection

On the remote island of Mfangano, in the heart of Kenya’s Lake Victoria, a small but growing community center has emerged to support the residents in the area. Over the past 3 years, the craigslist Charitable Fund has helped support IT infrastructure at the Ekialo Kiona Center, in partnership with the Organic Health Response. 100% sustainably powered, this IT resource center has opened up a pipeline for Mfangano residents to access free and unlimited broadband Internet, the first of its kind in the region.

mfangano skype

Last week, this incredible resource allowed, for the first time ever, students on Mfangano Island, Kenya to meet their pen pals of 2 years in Minnesota, USA. On November 17th, Rutherford Elementary School in Stillwater, Minnesota held a school-wide assembly to meet their friends on Mfangano Island, Kenya. Students on both ends of the line were thrilled to finally see their friends from so far away.  As the Minnesota students filled into the gymnasium, students came up to the camera and vigorously waved to their friends.

A parent from Rutherford Elementary posted this last week,

You know when you ask your kids, “Did anything exciting happen in school today?” And they usually say NO. Well my 7 year old daughter’s answer yesterday was, “I got to see my pen pal over Skype. She lives on Mfangano Island in Kenya.” Followed up with, “That’s in Africa mom.” Because I was just staring at her speechless! SO cool!

skype

For the students in Kenya, this was their first time using the Internet to connect across the globe. “The kids couldn’t believe they were speaking to people in America!” Evelyne Magioki is a teacher at the Wakinga Junior Acadamy on Mfangano. “When the children receive the letters they realize that students in America are just like them.”

ek kids

Over the next year, students from Minnesota are helping to raise funds to support IT fieldtrips to the EK Center for their friends on Mfangano Island. With proper lessons in global communication, these kids will be connecting more than we can imagine!

 

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3 Comments

Gail Y. Bennett

This is such an inspirational article. It is heartwarming to know that our global future lies in the hands of these beautiful innocent children from Africa and America. As adults, if we simply guide them and encourage them to continue communicating, learning from and appreciating each other's differences and the things they have in common, they will make our world amazing.Indeed, the possibilities are magnificent and endless.

David Potter

Hey Craig,really inspiring story of global connection and youth taking action to support each other. Now, what if one million youth connected like the kids in Minnesota and Kenya? Here is a new initiative just announced by VP Biden in Morocco last month: http://www.stevensinitiative.org As you might say, this is real deal, folks. From Skype Translator to the new e-Rate increase for US school broadband to the new Stevens Initiative, the movement to connect classrooms worldwide is gaining traction. The possibilities are endless.

Becky Hines

Thank you so much for posting this article! I am the teacher at Rutherford Elementary who organized the connection and the pen pal project, and the proud mom of Kelsi and Jenna Hines who are actively involved with OHR. Without my daughters and the opportunities I've had to visit Mfangano Island, I would never have dreamed that I could make this a reality for my own students. They are absolutely loving the project and without realizing it are becoming culturally aware and socially responsible citizens. I'm a firm believer that kids need to learn more than basic academics and when they can learn to appreciate themselves and others they will grow in all areas. This is something I will continue for as long as I can!

Becky Hines
Rutherford Elementary
Stillwater, MN

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