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Learning About Education Through Travel: L'Ecole Secretaire

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From the Fall 2011 Caller

By Siobhan Furnary '13

We strutted along the cracked sidewalk for about one and a half miles until we arrived at the school. It was the first time I’d seen a cloudy, hazy sky during our time in Kaolack, Senegal, a rural town populated by about 172,000 Senegalese.
 
As we passed a multitude of one-story homes along the main pothole-riddled street, a worn, white-stucco building, better known as “L’école secrétaire,” or “Secretary School,” loomed ahead. A group of 18 young women and just a few men, all in their early twenties, waited outside with handbags and meticulously done hair and makeup. Although a session of chatting and gossiping seemed essential before a morning of two two-hour classes, five or six students welcomed me with a gentle high-five followed through by a clasp at the hands.
 
Once their principal unlocked barred double doors, the students flooded inside, most making their way to the morning’s lecture class.
 
Women reached into their handbags, whipping out notebooks and pens as the lecturer began his talk on subjects unfamiliar to me as he spoke in French. My eyes couldn’t help but wander around the room while he gave his talk: a narrow, rectangular shaped classroom, with turquoise-painted walls, a chalkboard, wooden desks stretched down the room, and framed windows that peered down into a concrete courtyard—a lecture hall that would feel misplaced almost anywhere in the U.S. The second and last class of the morning was a proctored two-hour class, led by a computer program designed to teach the prospective secretaries how to type efficiently. Pairs of two shared a computer, much like the Macs we had thrown out of our garages years ago, and took turns striving to perfect the exercises at hand.
 
Although the young men and women weren’t enrolled in journalism, philosophy, environmental science, or neurology classes, their collegiate education promptly gave them the confidence to seek a secretarial position, exceeding their own and their families’ expectations.  
 

Catlin Gabel now makes it possible, through financial aid funds, for every Middle and Upper School student to participate in at least one global education trip abroad during their years at Catlin Gabel.

 

 

Learning About Education Through Travel: A School Day in Senegal

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From the Fall 2011 Caller

By Hannah Hay-Smith

In the spring of 2011 we, a group of 14 students, embarked on our trip to Senegal. The goal was to improve our French, explore a new culture, and work with a program called 10,000 Girls. Viola Vaughn created 10,000 Girls to help Senegalese girls stay in school and to teach them entrepreneurial skills. We spent a week doing home stays, in Kaolack, with some of these girls.
 
I lived with an 18-year-old named Mhakbé, who attended the public high school. Every day she walked two miles to her overpopulated school, which consisted of three concrete buildings and a large soccer field. On my first day of school, we had morning track and field. Each exercise was a competition, in which the most and least athletic students in the class were revealed. The most competitive of these activities was the high jump. We jumped, one at time, over the elevated bar and landed on the mat below. If you successfully cleared the bar and stuck your landing, you passed on to the next round. The other students, along with the gym teacher, judged each high jumper. I passed the first two rounds, but in the third round I hit the bar on the way over. The class snickered as I joined the other girls who had already been eliminated. I felt annoyed that the teacher let us be publicly humiliated and realized that no Catlin Gabel teacher would allow our peers to laugh at us, as he did. It was a reminder of the differences between the two schools.
 
In the afternoon, we attended math class. The room was dimly lit and crowded with students. The girls sat in the front of the room, while the boys were seated in the back. Once we’d taken our seats, the teacher, a tall Senegalese man, read everybody’s test scores aloud. For the second time that day I was surprised. I hadn’t taken the test, but I could still feel how embarrassing it would be to have my test scores read aloud.
 
As Mhakbé and I left her school, we walked by a pair of goats nibbling on grass. I realized that even if the classes and teachers were different than Catlin Gabel’s, some things were still the same: the kids were still eager to learn and still hard-working, and even six thousand miles away they still had goats on their school campus.  

 

Catlin Gabel now makes it possible, through financial aid funds, for every Middle and Upper School student to participate in at least one global education trip abroad during their years at Catlin Gabel.

 

Learning About Education Through Travel: Botswana 2011--An Education About Education

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From the Fall 2011 Caller

Botswana 2011: An Education About Education

By Fiona Noonan '12

Africa. When presented with this word, a litany of adjectives may swirl through one’s mind. One may stand above the rest, though: uneducated. While it is true that many people in Africa—as in all parts of the world—lack access to schools, supplies, and teachers, “uneducated” by no means describes this entire continent of extremely diverse people. A brilliant counterexample to the label “uneducated” is Botswana, a southern African republic whose national focus on schooling deserves attention, and certainly changed my perspective on what getting an education truly means.
 
This summer, a group of 13 Upper School students accompanied by our chaperones, science teacher Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93 and Richard Kassissieh, director of technology and learning innovation, traveled to Botswana for a trip that primarily revolved around interacting with people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Since Botswana is the country with the second-highest HIV infection rate in the world, we aimed to educate ourselves about the virus and its ramifications—and to help those affected by it—to the extent possible. To achieve that end we tutored and played with HIV-positive children, painted a mural at a pediatric HIV clinic called the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence, and engaged in dialogues with teens and adults about the effects of HIV and AIDS on Botswana’s culture and society. However, the unifying theme of all these activities extended beyond connections to HIV/AIDS. Each of our discussions, interactions, and services exposed us to something even greater: education.
 
Our trip took us all over Botswana, starting in the capital city of Gaborone, where we boarded at our sister school, Maru-a-Pula. MAP was our first encounter with any type of educational institution. Interestingly, as we discovered by living on campus, befriending the students, and attending classes, the term “sister school” extends beyond the mere relationship between CGS and MAP. In many ways, MAP perfectly mirrored Catlin Gabel in its large outdoor campus, commitment to service learning, and relatively small class sizes. Catering to wealthier families and very intelligent students, and widely considered one of the best high schools in Botswana, the parallels between the two schools were unmistakable.
 
While in Gaborone we also did various works of service through which we came across a completely different type of education. One of our main projects was a week-long project implementing a tutoring program for children at the Botswana Baylor Centre. Though an overwhelming 90% of children in Botswana go to school, one study has found that most are not doing well. In helping these children with basic math skills, we were able to provide essential practice in a one-onone format likely unavailable at their schools. Not every child expressed an interest in math, but to see even a few of them succeed was exciting. Despite any language barriers, I came to see math as a truly universal language, and I felt proud that our teaching had positively impacted the kids’ lives.
 
Our group departed from Gaborone and visited towns and villages farther north in the country. One of the villages we went to was Thabala, the tiny home town of alumna Mmaserame Gaefele ’11. We spent time with her family, who gave us a tour of everything, including the school. The fact that such a small town had a school surprised us, and as students rushed out of the schoolyard to follow us, we found out that it was not uncommon for such a school to exist. In fact, we discovered that almost every village in Botswana has some type of school, giving an incredible number of students the opportunity to learn and succeed in hopes of eventually going to a university.
 
This widespread access to teaching and learning is made possible by Botswana’s federal government, which allocates an overwhelming 21% of its total budget to education. As a result, every child can attend school, and can then, if accepted, attend the University of Botswana for free. The government will even pay for medical school anywhere in the world in hopes that students will return to Botswana and join the highly understaffed medical workforce. Based on these facts, the access to education in Botswana appears to be solid. However, as we travelled farther north to the village of Gumare, we experienced a slightly darker side of schooling in Botswana.
 
In Gumare we met pen pals with whom we had been corresponding. Our arrival marked the first day of their high school winter break. Though their real vacation had just begun, we learned that they had recently finished a five-week break of a very different kind. We came to Botswana in the wake of an eight-week long strike that had shut down schools all over the country as teachers refused to work. Our pen pals’ school suffered greatly as a result. With exams approaching, they were unable to learn necessary material for the test, and the older students had collectively resorted to teaching younger ones what they would need to know. On top of that, we were informed that many of the teachers in Gumare lack interest in their students as a result of involuntary placement in such a rural location.
 
Hearing all of this astonished me. To go teacherless for over a month after normally having indifferent teachers, and to still have the motivation to succeed and help others succeed, was admirable, and necessary.
 
My own pen pal, Pearl, told me all about high school, and about her desire to attend the University of Botswana upon graduation. Coming from a family of four girls and a single mother, Pearl told me it would be difficult, so she needed to pass and continue to pass her exams in order to make it. Unlike the students at Maru-a-Pula, most of whom are accepted to and can afford to attend universities all over the world, the students in Gumare have relatively limited opportunities to further their education and go to college. For Pearl and the rest of our pen pals, an education clearly meant more than homework and tests: it meant the chance at a better life.
 
Fortunately, I have never had to consider not being able to attend college. Seeing the passion for learning from such a broad range of scholars in Botswana forced me to consider the importance of my own education, to reflect on what an education means to me, and to subsequently feel ashamed of consistently taking it for granted. After viewing the exposure and access that Batswana have to education, though, I feel less guilty. The sheer number of kids enrolled in school is admirable, and though Botswana’s school system may be imperfect, it is on the right track.
 
Pearl will soon have to decide what to do after graduation, and if she wants to attend the University of Botswana, I believe she can.
 

Catlin Gabel now makes it possible, through financial aid funds, for every Middle and Upper School student to participate in at least one global education trip abroad during their years at Catlin Gabel.

 

Zoe Frank '12 breaks world record for balance board; raises $$ to help African women

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Zoë Frank ’12 has traveled to Africa four times, moved by the plight of women in Africa with devastating childbirth injuries. She’s learned to assist her father, an OB-GYN, in surgeries in Cameroon, Zambia, the Republic of the Congo, and Chad to correct obstetric fistulae, a condition affecting many poor and young women in which the organs of elimination are torn when they attempt to deliver a stillborn baby. Although the condition is treatable, there are not many hospitals or clinics that help these women who become shunned by their communities. "In the bush, if you have hands and a brain, you jump in and help," says Zoë.
 
As another way of helping out, Zoë raised money for Zambia’s Monze Fistula Trust in many ways—asking for donations, babysitting, selling her possessions—and vowing to break the world’s record for time spent on a balance board. She broke that record, and entered the Guinness Book of World Records, this summer with a time of 2 hours and 6 minutes, beating the previous world record by more than 11 minutes. Zoë has so far raised $2,400 from sponsors to bring back to the clinic in Monze, Zambia, next summer.
 
For more on Zoë’s efforts, visit http://monzefistulatrust.com/.
 
 
 

 

Sculptor from Ghana to visit Nov. 7 for arts residency & slide lecture

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Eric Adjetey Anang, a 27-year-old fantasy coffin sculptor from Ghana, will give a slide lecture on Monday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gerlinger Auditorium at Catlin Gabel. He will discuss the history of Ghana’s Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop and show slides that illustrate the process of building his sculptures. The slide lecture is free and open to the public.
 
Eric Adjetey Anang will be in Portland for residencies at Catlin Gabel (November 7-11) and the Oregon College of Art and Craft (October 31-November 4). He runs the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop in Ghana, which was started by his grandfather in the early 1950s. Kwei’s coffins, sculpted into forms such as boats, cars, musical instruments, tools, or animals to describe or honor their deceased elders, was recognized worldwide. Anang began working in his grandfather’s shop at age 8, and he began running the shop seven years ago. Anang’s work has been shown in Antwerp, is in the permanent collection of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and is in private collections around the world.
 
Anang’s recent travels include a trip in August 2011 to Novosibirsk, Russia, where he made two fantasy coffins for the Novosibirsk Cultural Museum (see http://rt.com/news/coffin-style-fish-moscow-397/). He was an invited guest in September 2011 at the Gwangju Design Biennale in South Korea. A recent short film by a London producer about the Kane Kwei workshop can be seen at http://vimeo.com/29833243 .

The Preserver of Traditions

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Mariah Stoll-Smith Reese '93 has kept alive her family legacy of performing Northwest Coast dances and stories

From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

As a baby, Mariah Stoll-Smith Reese ’93 was carried around the fire in the ceremonial longhouse of her famed Lelooska family in the foothills of Mt. St. Helens. She grew up dancing and watching her relatives perform living history in fantastically carved masks, seeing people she knew in everyday life transformed into characters such as Raven and Grandmother Loon as they shared and celebrated the cultural legacy of the Northwest Coast Kwakwaka’wakw Nation.

 
Mariah grew up surrounded by art. Her mother was a contemporary visual artist, and her father carved the traditional masks used in the family’s living history programs; she remembers cedar chips flying into her playpen in her father’s workshop. Her grandmother was famous for her carved wooden dolls depicting Native Americans, and she taught the art to Mariah. Art was in the air she breathed, and the family’s love of their traditions—and their commitment to educate others about those traditions—permeated everything.
 
She came to Catlin Gabel for high school, a long commute made easier by the many nights Mariah spent with her Portland grandparents. Their priority was working to make the world a better place. Their model, combined with her father’s family legacy of making, sharing, and educating, helped create the woman she is today—competent, intelligent, strong, and compassionate.
 
At Catlin Gabel Mariah became involved in multicultural issues and helped found SPEED (Students Promoting Ethnic Equality & Diversity). In her classes she learned to read deeply and have something to say—and be able to back it up. As a junior she first experienced the thrill and satisfaction of doing solid, complicated research. Mariah brought those skills to Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, where she designed her own major in Native American cultural preservation.
 
Her research training came into play when the family patriarch and storyteller, her uncle Chief Lelooska, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Mariah began a tireless campaign of recording everything she could to preserve the legacy he carried with him, combining this urgent work with her independent studies for college. Mariah was chosen as executive director of the Lelooska Foundation, buttressed by her family and her talents in communication and organization. When Chief Lelooska died, the family regrouped and carried on the foundation’s living history programs.
 
Her legacy of community service has played out in many ways, with Mariah leading fights to save her children’s school (she has a girl and a boy, aged 8 and 6, and a wonderfully supportive husband), and to maintain free access for locals to rivers and lakes when that was threatened. “All the skills I learned at Catlin Gabel came into play,” she says of these struggles, where she had to make her case to the public and the press. She has also pitched in to her tight-knit community by leading Girl Scouts and starting, with her husband, a children’s soccer program.
 
Mariah’s advice to current CGS students: “Don’t take it for granted! When I look back at my life, I see how many things I was able to do because of what I learned at Catlin Gabel,” she says. “And having an opportunity to learn skills means having an opportunity to give back and make life better for people around you.”
 
 
Performance photo courtesy of the Lelooska Foundation

 

Catlin Gabel family's independent service in New Mexico

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Los Niños International volunteer opportunities

By Carrie Gotkowitz
Los Niños/Via International is a community development organization headquartered in San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. Our family has been involved with Los Niños for many years – my son Daniel's grandfather, Joseph Gotkowitz, started the microcredit program in the early 1990s. I was familiar with the Los Niños programs through contacts in San Diego, but had never visited any of the program sites. 

During spring break 2010, Daniel and I spent two days at the Los Niños program in Mexicali, Mexico. We visited a cactus farm, a beehive cooperative, a ladrillera (brickmaking business), and a preschool, which is the site of a xeroscape landscaping and playground installation project. We ate meals and slept at the Los Niños dormitory in Mexicali.

Los Niños Mexicali volunteers have helped with sustainable farming development projects, bridge building, xeroscape landscape installation, and playground construction. Volunteer work is directed by agronomists or construction supervisors. Los Niños provides Spanish language interpreters. Voluntourism trips include discussion and education on community health and nutrition, local and global economic forces driving migration, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. Volunteer and community contributions are used to fund projects.

Los Niños/Via International has a 37-year history in community development work. The organization focuses on family health and food security, nutrition, and ecology training, microenterprise and microcredit, community leadership education, and voluntourism programs. Los Niños offers voluntourism programs in San Diego, New Mexico, Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico, and Guatemala.

Los Niños International

Paul Monheimer reflects on Israel Fulbright research

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Last year I applied for a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching.  Much to my amazement, I was awarded a grant to study for a little over three months in Israel. On the application, I wrote a proposal for connecting students using graphic arts software to help overcome language barriers. How naïve I was. The first issue my mentor, Jay Hurvitz, pointed out was that I had hardly proposed a topic which could be researched. No problem, I countered. Being a mentor teacher in the United States, I was more than willing to look at how student teachers were being trained to teach with modern technological tools. In my mentoring, I had discovered that student teachers were proficient at using technology, but had little training in how to teach with technology.  I told Jay I was also interested in how veteran teachers were acquiring the new skills necessary to teach with emerging technology. 

I was not a researcher prior to this Fulbright Award. I teach children. I have done so successfully by most measures for nearly thirty years. Teaching is about building relationships. My students learn because of the relationship I have with them.  In order to learn about the state of technology in Israeli education, I began developing a personal learning network (PLN.) I created a blog that, according to Google Analytics, has received more than 700 visits.  Each visit lasted an average of 2:36. Clearly, people are reading what I have written. 

Actually doing research was my problem.  I was going to be in Israel for 102 days.  I spent a week getting acclimated.  95 days left.  Israeli universities have a semester break in February. Down to 80 days left.  K-12 students have a spring (Passover) break. That left 70 days for me to complete my research.  I learned a great deal while in Israel. Yet I am just now beginning to understand how little I know, and I will be teaching Catlin Gabel seventh graders in 14 days. As a wise Israeli fifth grade teacher reminds her students, “When you travel, you learn a lot about other cultures.  But, you learn more about yourself.”  What did I learn about the Israeli education system?  What did I learn about myself?

I was eager to begin my research into the Israeli school system, but I don’t read, speak, or write Hebrew very well. I needed to talk to people who spoke English, read articles in English, etc. But Hebrew is an important part of Israeli culture. It is one of the ties that bind people. Speak Hebrew and one is seen as an Israeli or at least trying to be part of the culture. Speak English and people might be tolerant or even translate, but I was still an outsider. Fortunately, I met many people who talked to me in English, newspapers such as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have online English editions, and both Google and Microsoft have passable translators. Technology became my lifeline. It kept me afloat, yet did not quite allow me to swim. I could translate Hebrew into English, verify my understanding with Israeli colleagues, and e-mail people on my laptop. I had a cell phone for person-to-person conversations and interviews. I learned that Israeli educators deal with many of the same issues facing American educators. Finding similarities eased my language anxiety a bit and allowed me to focus more on some of the differences.

Education in Israel is a complex enterprise. I divided my study between higher education folks and K-12 schools. Beyond this basic divide, there also are secular schools, religious schools, ultra-religious schools, and Arab schools. Funding and political power are unequal. While much funding is federal, schools are administered by municipalities, which means wealthier neighborhoods have schools with more resources, parental involvement, etc. There are areas where the school is the only building in a village with electricity. I visited one Bedouin school, near Be’er Sheva, where a generator the size of a camping trailer was providing the school with electricity. Residents, by contrast, relied on solar power, if they had electricity at all.
Israeli schools are faced with a wide spectrum of issues. Often, technology isn't a high priority. I wanted to talk about technology and how teachers were being trained in its use and using it with kids. But I kept reading about violence in schools, poorly paid teachers, high teacher turnover, lack of qualified teachers, curricular differences between religious, ultra-religious, and secular schools, and schools refusing to teach certain students.  Perhaps most importantly, education in Israel has to deal with security measures unlike any I have ever experienced as a teacher in America.  Every school in Israel is not only fenced, it has an armed guard at the gate. The guard won’t actually admit anybody, but will allow visitors to contact the office. Even when I visited schools as part of a team of Israeli educators, we still had to be admitted by someone who worked at the school, not the guard. Schoolchildren on field trips are accompanied by at least two armed guards the entire time. While no one mentioned the effect of security on kids and most Israelis take security precautions in stride, it has to affect the kids and the adults.   Learning about Israeli schools is, as the ogre, Shrek, says, “Like an onion.  Peel it back one layer at a time.”

A good mentor tries to develop independence in his charge, and Jay was an excellent mentor. He accomplished four major tasks with me. Jay helped me become independent as a traveler. Israel has a terrific bus system, but it took a number of trips before I felt comfortable. I am now able to travel to any part of Israel to meet educators, visit schools and colleges, and return to Jerusalem safely. Jay introduced me to a few educators who are doing unbelievable work in the field of education technology.  Sometimes he attended these meetings, other times I met with people on my own. I joined Israeli educator forums, which required more Google/Bing translation work, and I have been a contributor to these forums since my arrival. One of my suggestions is currently being tried out on Edureshet, a Ning group of technology-using educators. Jay also introduced me to a group of college instructors who were learning how to use technology in their courses. My skills as a technology director and technology-using teacher came in handy, as I was able to participate in class even though my Hebrew was not up to the level it needed to be to participate fully. More than once, after I made a comment, someone would remark, “Oh, so you understand Hebrew.” I didn’t and still don’t, but I understand what is on a screen and have been a presenter often enough to correctly guess what was going on. Lastly, under Jay’s guidance, I attended conferences at Mofet, a unique Israeli institution. Meeting colleagues of all stripes at these conferences was a highlight of my time in Israel, and I look forward to keeping in touch with many of the fine educators I met. While I know Jay did his best to broaden the circle of people with whom I met, and even though he knows, in one way or another, many educators active in the education technology field, my exposure to these people was inevitably influenced by his circle of friends and acquaintances.

More than anything else, I treasured the time I had to read, think, and write. I have followed a few blogs for a number of years, but my blogroll has now grown substantially. Speaking with Israeli colleagues and observing teachers in their classrooms piqued my interest in areas of technology to which I had not previously paid much attention, including ways to incorporate Facebook, Diigo, and other social networking sites, Google forms, and submitting assignments via Moodle. School visits caused me to reflect on my own teaching methods and curriculum. Reading what others wrote on the subject and commenting on posts connected me to educators not just in Israel, but the entire world. I’m not sure where I will find the time to continue all of the reading, but I suspect I will find ways to keep up, or I will join the legions of tech folks who have way too much to read. Thinking about my own teaching, how I approach learning, how I incorporate programs such as All Kinds of Minds, how I utilize the rich resources available to today’s students and teachers, and which skills I want kids to have when they leave my class are all areas I have been lucky enough to explore during my Israel Fulbright.  I have shared some of these thoughts in my 33 blog posts. 

Now that I am preparing to return to the US, what have I learned about the topics I wanted to explore?  There are some Israeli schools engaged in global sharing projects. Perhaps Catlin Gabel will join the growing list of schools participating in global sharing when I return. Some of the software I wanted to share does not “accept” Hebrew input. I have an ongoing correspondence with three software companies encouraging them to tweak their programs to accept Hebrew characters. According to the Israelis, it should be no problem. 

There is an ongoing program in Israel, the Athena Fund, whose stated goal is to address the current poor state of the education system, wherein a gap of digital understanding exists between teachers and students, teachers showing fear of computers and not using them for the purpose of teaching and communicating, and their general status in the eyes of their students is at its lowest. The Fund's main project is "a laptop for every teacher."

The Athena Fund aims to complete its work by 2012. From my limited observations, most Israeli schools have a long way to go. Israeli student teachers are not part of the Athena Fund program. This is unfortunate because, if they were, they might be ready to teach with technology when they began their own teaching careers. Instead, they become part of the program only after completion of their training. If I could make one recommendation it would be to give every teaching candidate a laptop at the beginning of their training. Teacher training is stuttering. Early adopting teachers are moving ahead, but many teachers are simply hoping, “this, too, shall pass." What few in the education community are talking about is that Israeli kids already bring cell phones to school and the phones are creating the same problems as cell phones in schools do in the US – distraction of peers through inappropriate use, ringing during school time, class distinctions between students who have “cool” phones and those who do not, etc. There are so many “turf battles” being waged in the education sector that it is difficult for all the folks involved to move in the same direction. 

Cutting-edge teaching is always inspiring! I visited schools where creative teachers were involved in innovative programs. I observed students in middle schools where each family had purchased a laptop for their child to use, conduct research, create tables in a word processor and upload the document to Moodle, all in a 45-minute period. I met teachers whose students were creating audio files to go with their stories, which they then used as part of an English lesson.  I brainstormed with teachers who were setting up a program to get parents more involved in their local school by having parents and children learn together about using computers. I learned more about the importance of social networking in education than I can possibly recount. This is, of course, a two-edged sword. Students enjoy social networking because they use the tools all the time, they are familiar with them, and they don’t seem like “real work.” But teachers need to help students understand the responsibilities involved in using social networking sites in classes. This includes focusing on school projects, not just updating status, checking on friends, etc. The issues surrounding “proper use” of social networking are not limited to Israeli or American schools/students.  Increasingly, corporations are either filtering or intensively monitoring what employees are doing/viewing/ while connected to the corporate network. 

Teaching is about making connections. I have done that during the past three months in Israel. Current technology will allow me to stay in touch with the educators and students I have met here. As a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher, I have learned new ways of looking at my teaching, improved my teaching, and I have been fortunate enough to have begun working with others to collectively improve education in both the United States and Israel. As Brian Jones stated after he and his partner had just completed the first around-the-world balloon flight, “I am an ordinary person to whom something extraordinary has happened.”

 

Viola Vaughn from Sénégal to speak at Catlin Gabel on April 7

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Vaughn, a CNN "Hero," is founder & director of 10,000 Girls, dedicated to the education of girls

Viola Vaughn, founder and executive director of the nonprofit 10,000 Girls (http://10000girls.org) in Kaolack, Sénégal, West Africa, will speak at Catlin Gabel on Wednesday, April 7, at 12:45 p.m. in the Middle School Commons during her tour of the United States.

Dr. Viola Vaughn

Vaughn is an American with an Ed.D. from Columbia University who received a CNN “Hero” award in 2008. She is a social entrepreneur who has built 10,000 Girls from an idea to a vibrant program currently serving 2,567 girls in 10 towns and villages in rural Sénégal. She periodically tours the U.S., speaking and participating in conferences to raise awareness of her organization's success in helping West African girls succeed as students and entrepreneurs. During her time in Portland Vaughn will also speak at Portland State University.

Video of Viola Vaughn #1          

Video of Viola Vaughn #2            

Video of Viola Vaughn #3

Viola Vaughn and the 10,000 Girls Project from Memory Box Productions on Vimeo.

10,000 Girls has two primary programs: after-school education and skill-building, helping girls stay in school and complete their educations; and entrepreneurship, teaching a craft or trade and business basics to older girls who have already left school and need life skills to become self-reliant. The educational component provides tutoring and resources to help girls succeed in school. Older girls, who are no longer in school, learn sewing, baking, and other marketable skills, creating products such as dolls and table linens, which they sell locally and online. The girls also grow, harvest, and produce hibiscus, which they transform into tea and hope to export to the U.S. as Certified Organic. The girls in the entrepreneurial program have decided to donate nearly 50% of their earnings to the program, making 10,000 Girls entirely self-sustainable. In Sénégal – where 54% of the citizens live below poverty and 48% are unemployed  – 10,000 Girls transforms the lives of  participating girls and their families.

The dynamic Viola Vaughn, a long-time resident of Sénégal, dramatically describes the challenges and joys of running 10,000 Girls and speaks with passion about her organization's mission. She can relay fascinating stories, including how she convinced banks to open accounts for young girls, a first in Sénégal; why the girls chose to bake and sell cookies to raise money (like America's Girl Scouts); and the what poignant questions the girls pose at summer Democracy Camps in  Sénégal. 
 
In Portland, Violla Vaughn hopes to connect with individuals and organizations interested in the education of girls, as well as with businesses that might want to sell 10,000 Girls' products. She will also encourage individuals intending to volunteer for 10,000 Girls in Senegal.