When I run out of my last piece of toilet paper…
International Virtual Exchange
Strathcona Elementary School, a public school in Vancouver, became a sister school to the village school of Iyoli, a school in the Kondoa district of Tanzania. Two teachers, Perry Buchan and Doug Sherrett were part of the team who developed and implemented an innovative exchange curriculum. The exchange used the Iyoli water project as a catalyst to integrate two vital themes: the complex human relationship with water and the incredible power of storytelling.
ALL of the curriculum was translated into swahili by Jackline Omondi and followed simultaneously by a teacher in Tanzania who lead the storytelling group.
Strathcona students worked on 4 different projects for 6 months: a book of stories, a video, a song and a virtual reality tour of their school. In addition the kids had questions about each other so we filmed them which resulted in videos that we used to help raise money to build a well in the village of Iyoli which is going to be built in partnership with Innovation: Africa. The H2Ope campaign was created as an extension of the exchange which was used to create awareness. Kids answer similar questions and it is beautiful.
We believe that this curriculum provided a synergistic medium for the exchange of ideas, allowing different cultures to connect and learn from each other through the power of the human story augmented by modern media tools. Education, Development and Media should go hand in hand.
This was the second international exchange and it was the beginning of the idea for the Virtual Co: Lab who’s mission is to formalize these international exchanges using media and technology.
Doug's Classroom Outcomes
"Working at an inner city school I have limited resources that constantly impact how and what I can provide for my students. Lara outlined how her access to quality cutting edged technology and her network of professionals would bring the project well beyond what I could have envisioned. She worked with Perry and I collaboratively, carefully illuminating where her creative and technical skill would help engage my student and present our learning in professional and dramatic way."
"Educating students always comes down to how accessible and relevant the learning is to students. We started with oral stories and used photos, videos and the internet which brought what they wanted to say to life with my students. She brought hardware to my class for kids to use, not just look at. When Lara traveled to Iyoli and had the village school duplicate this curricumlum with the village students it forged a global community with my class. These were not just two classes halfway around the planet from each other, hey were connected and meaningful to each other."
"Lara kept providing ways for the two schools to connect through technology and old fashioned communications. My students came away with a global understanding of third world issues that up till then were academic exercises. In Iyoli, students came to appreciate that they were valued and appreciated for the similarities between fellow students. Lara bridged the globe with technology and caring."
"The pride that my class feels from starting at meager beginnings to completely transforming this Iyoli community to having safe, accessible water (the most basic of needs) is astounding. The learning my students made about themselves, water, technology, global community is profound and permanent. I only wish all my lessons were so complete."
"Lara has helped the kids in the class gain new perspective on children who live in Tanzania. A lot of filming was done at our school and the kids loved every chance that they had to showcase their skills. The short film exchange was a great story telling opportunity for the children to get to know each other from different parts of the world. There was fun and learning happening at the same time. We also went to Lara's office where some kids got to meet and talk about how to promote the big water project. It was an amazing experience working with Lara. She is a remarkable women who is able to connect deeply with children with big world ideas."
Tanzania March 2016
In March 2016 I went to Iyoli primary school with a projector and generator to show the Iyoli storytelling club the Strathcona creations and help create the Iyoli content.
Today we drove to Iyoli with Moshi.
The red dust sits on the surface of my skin.
Today I learned that perfection is overrated.
I forgot a belt so am using my USB cord.
I am in the middle of a corn field in Tanzania.
I met with the water technician, Jafari.
We went to see Baraka’s mom and grandmother.
I found my translator for Iyoli.
You know that feeling when you wake up a little confused.
It’s international woman’s day and a perfect way to start this journey.
Lara is an Emily Carr graduate and the co-founder of Randomlink Interactive Inc., an award winning interactive studio, founded in 1997. Lara is key in developing and documenting the stories that come from the remote communities using her media and photography skills.
Moshi Changai (Project Management, Tanzania)
Moshi Changai has been leading tours for over 15 years. He has worked for many of the biggest companies as a safari leader. Moshi Changai was born in Sori, a small village in the Kondoa district, where he was the major driving force behind the Cheku Water project. He successfully managed both the people and money required to successfully build the Cheku solar powered water well. He is working hard to improve the quality of life for both individuals and the community at large.
Perry Buchan (Curriculum Development, Canada)
Understanding and creating social change has been Perry’s lifelong passion. Both as an academic, and as a career elementary teacher, he has studied, created and implemented alternative methods of education designed to help create a better world. Perry was instrumental in creating the curriculum for the original Cheku Water Project.
Jackline Omondi (Cultural Liaison and Curriculum Development Officer, Canada) Jackline Omondi has a Master of Arts, Sociology degree from University of British Columbia. For the past 15 years, she has been involved in training initiatives for youth and adult learners of culturally diverse backgrounds. She is passionate about empowering individuals through culturally sensitive training methodologies that enhance transfer of knowledge. Born and raised in Kenya and established in Canada, Jackline offers critical lenses to ways of learning that are cognizant of both resource limited settings and the technologically enhanced communities.
Doug Sherrett (Curriculum Development and Implementation, Canada)
Doug is a grade six and seven teacher at Strathcona Elementary where the new curriculum will be implemented.
Steve Campbell (Media publicity and communications)
Steve Campbell, APR, is an experienced communications and media publicity consultant based in Vancouver. He is principal of Campbell & Company Strategies Inc. and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UBC.
The Beneficiary Community (Iyoli Village, Tanzania)
The local community of Iyoli will be actively involved in the project through a local water user committee.
Kondoa Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Tanzania)
Kondoa Cultural Tourism Enterprise creates a for profit business that rolls the development of community projects into the cost of every tour that tourists can be involved in as part of their travel itinerary. The company keeps the environmental projects sustainable because people in the village earn money from the projects.
Randomlink Interactive Inc.
Randomlink Interactive Inc. has been around since 1997, and is an award winning interactive studio that specializes in integrating media content into engaging and technically advanced websites. The studio has been recognized with Webby Awards, Communication Arts Interactive Annual, Flash Forward and Canadian New Media Awards. Whatever funds that are lacking for the survey Randomlink Interactive Inc. has committed to make up the difference.