Can students living continents apart learn from one another, using basic technology? The Millennium Cities School2School partnership program (S2S) is quickly proving that distance learning is not only possible, it is a wonderful way to enhance students’ academic skills and increase their knowledge of important global issues – while allowing them to learn about new cultures and make new friends.
Our innovative program connects schools in the Millennium Cities, 11 under-served urban areas across sub-Saharan Africa, with schools in the United States and elsewhere. From our first partnerships, between Kinkaid high-schoolers from Houston, TX and 7th graders at Washington, DC’s Sidwell Friends School and students at Opoku Ware Junior High School in Kumasi, Ghana, to our recent Skype exchange linking students in Ghana, Kenya and Mali with American students for World Read Aloud Day, this program has produced meaningful partnerships.
Students from Kisumu Day High School in Kisumu, Kenya, and students from Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos, California, have used Skype to work together on assignments spanning anthropology, economics and history, while sharing fun tidbits like their “Top 10 Most Admired” lists. Kisumu Day students recently received a wonderful surprise – a donation of 10 computers and cameras from Los Gatos. Previously, Kisumu Day students gathered around one computer to Skype with their California friends; this tremendous gift makes learning, and connecting, much easier. And on the other side of the world, the seniors at Los Gatos have received their own gift – an amazing opportunity to learn together with their Kenyan counterparts.
One student from Kisumu Day said, “Thank you for this opportunity to chat with your students. When we heard that we are getting computers, I danced with joy and happiness.” Still another said, “This project has enabled me to learn your system of education and culture, and it has opened me to the other side of the world.”
Those words say it all. MCI strives to create many more linkages between schools, as well as comprehensive programs to integrate IT into the curriculum and girls’ clubs sharing an online platform. Through these relationships, MCI hopes to offer participating students and teachers unique educational experiences, fostering mutual understanding and forging powerful friendships. And with a little luck, and some of their newfound knowledge, S2S Partnership students may be the first to identify ways to help the Millennium Cities attain the Millennium Development Goals.
After all, it is this generation, informed now by a near-infinite reservoir of readily available educational resources, which will find the solutions to our common global challenges. MCI is proud to help provide access to some of the tools with which to do so.