It is hard to believe that we have recently had our one-year anniversary with GlobalGiving. We are very thankful for all GG has done, for your support and the help of countless others to facilitate the growth and development of our project. In this update, I’d like to present some of our achievements over the past year and to preview an anticipated expansion of this project for our second year of partnering with GlobalGiving.
In June of last year, we saw hope in a time of uncertainty. Our project helped students and staff rebound a bit after the effect of Haiti’s devastating earthquake. Our project offered a positive distraction and a future of hope during the daunting task of earthquake recovery in Haiti.
During the summer of 2010, volunteers went to Haiti to construct and paint the computer room at Les Bons Samartians that would be used to house the laptops from our project. As the summer progressed, our project was the focus of a Central Pennsylvania local morning radio show. For an hour, our students were interviewed about the good things our project was accomplishing and the future potential of our project.
During the fall of 2010, the computer room at Les Bons Samaritains was outfitted with Classmate PC computers along with a classroom interactive white board. On GlobalGiving we were selected out of the nearly 3,000 projects hosted by GlobalGiving for their “Project of the Month” club for our project’s “high impact and innovative effects”. Our project started to grow in popularity on the Internet receiving nearly 500 new hits a month on our Palmyra-Haiti Pilot Wikispaces account. We were featured as one of the “Best of the Best” Glogs on the GlogsterEdu site as well.
During the winter of 2010-2011, our Palmyra-Haiti wiki club remembered the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Our club, consisting of student and teacher volunteers within the Palmyra Area School District, continued to build a learning and collaboration platform on our wiki. The club also raised funds for this project and humanitarian aid for Haiti. The club gave our Palmyra students a taste of what it is like to run a non-profit organization. Industry professionals from the central Pennsylvania area gave their time and talent to our project in areas of marketing, web design, video production and more to help our project grow. We continue to be grateful for the generous support of our volunteers.
In the spring of 2011, our club posted a variety of YouTube videos to market our project to a larger audience and to capture the flavor of how this project may impact the people of Haiti. One of those videos can be seen on the links below. We also created a Facebook page for our project to help expand our reach. That link can be found below as well.
We ended the combined school years of Palmyra and Les Bons Samaritans with a touching Skype exchange between our students, which is noted in more detail on our previous update. We have grown our wiki popularity on the web from nearly 500 new hits per month in the fall to nearly 3000 new hits in June. In addition, Intel has generously kicked off a dollar for dollar matching campaign for our project, which continues as I write this update.
In a later update, I will expand on the future potential of our project but I would like to highlight one important, anticipated event that will be happening this fall. Les Bons Samaritains has been so successful that a secondary school has been built and will be opening this fall. The James Stine College (link below) will continue the great work started at Les Bons Samaritains. Our project has raised enough funds to start a computer room at the James Stine College and we hope to move forward with it in the coming months.
I would like to conclude this anniversary update with a few notable quotes from the year.
“Nice work. We need all the humanitarians we can get.”
~Johnny Colt, CNN iReporter and The Black Crowes guitarist.
“This is the best idea”
~Lisa Landis, WJTL morning host
“Nous sommes tous heureuses pour les ordinateurs et pour ce projet.”
“We are all happy for the computers and for this project.”
~Johnson, Cirius, Carmelle, Nadia, Fédeline, Chriscy, & Dieula
“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone involved in the project for making this a life-changing experience for me- and I hope that through this I’ve made a difference in others’ lives, too. “
“Through my communication with the people of Haiti, my respect for them has grown and my appreciation for the life I live has been prevalent. These lessons are extremely important for my future and this amazing project is helping me to develop them now."
As you can see by these quotes and by this anniversary update, your donations are making a deep and lasting, student-driven, impact. I would urge you to consider making an additional donation today of any amount during Intel’s dollar for dollar matching campaign for our project. Together, we can expand and sustain the accomplishments of this past school year and build for the future.
Since the beginning of our technology collaborative, Skype has played an important role. In 2009, we successfully conducted our first Skype conference between the Les Bons Samaritains School in Haiti and the Palmyra Middle School in Pennsylvania. I was in Haiti during that first Skype conference and witnessed the exuberance in the exchange between the Haitian students and my students back in Pennsylvania. At that moment we realized the cultural awareness and educational potential of this communication medium.
A few weeks later, the students of Les Bons Samamritains Skyped my students in Palmyra to show us the Haitian custom of Carnival, a Mardi Gras like celebration. Our Palmyra students were given a live glimpse into a world that they would not have known otherwise. A connection with a lasting impression was made. You can view a video showing Carnival at LBS through one of the links in this update.
As our program continued to grow and develop, our Skype experience continued as well. During one of our Skype™ sessions, we gathered over 100 of our Palmyra Middle School students in an auditorium to Skype with Les Bons Samaritians. During this session, we exchanged ideas about our program and sang traditional songs to each other. It was a touching experience that brought two cultures closely together. This conference can be viewed through one of the links in this update.
Recently, we had another notable Skype experience. During the fall of our school year, we were fortunate enough to have a Haitian student enroll in our school. Laurie was born and raised in Haiti. She speaks Creole and French fluently and has been learning English since she has been with us. She participated in our most recent Skype with Les Bons Samaritains students and was able to give them perspective on what life is like as a Haitian student in an American school. This conference can be viewed from one of the links in this update.
Thanks to your support, you have made these great experiences possible. Through your continued financial support, we can change lives in the dramatic way that is only available through education and the opportunities it provides.
June provides two exciting opportunities for increased funding for our project!
On Wednesday, June 15th, you have an opportunity to stretch your donation to our project through a GlobalGiving matching offer. Starting at 12:01 am EDT, GlobalGiving will match any donation of $1000 or less to our project by 30% until their matching fund pool of $75,000 runs out. Please make a note of this and donate early this day.
In addition, GlobalGiving’s Technology for Education Fund is contributing to classroom technology projects like ours! Throughout the entire month of June, a matching funds campaign is in effect that will match donations to the Tech for Education fund which supports our project!
As always, thank you for your continued support! I have seen first hand the lives that have been changed by your generosity!
Recently, our Palmyra students were honored to have Dr. Rodrigue Mortel share his life story with us. Our students were inspired by his talk and had an opportunity to interview him. The interview can be viewed from the link on this update.
Dr. Mortel is the founder of Les Bons Samaritains School in Haiti through which your generous support is providing state of the art technology for the school’s students. Dr. Mortel himself was born into abject poverty in Haiti. As a boy, his family was evicted from their tiny home because they could not afford the $4 monthly rent. Dr. Mortel’s mother told him that this indignity would never have happened if she had had an education.
Inspired by the words of his mother, he diligently overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to become a renowned surgeon, educator, scientist and humanitarian. He received his medical degree in Port-au-Prince and started his medical career in Haiti. From Haiti he practiced medicine in Montreal then moved to Philadelphia where he practiced at Hahnemann Hospital before moving on to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. From New York, he studied at the University of Paris and did medical research at Ligue National Francaise Contre le Cancer. He later settled in Hershey, Pennsylvania where he was a professor, cancer surgeon and researcher at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. He became the first African-American, foreign educated department chair of a United States medical school. He became a national leader and contributor to his field on many levels throughout his career. In 1985, he received the prestigious and acclaimed Horatio Alger award.
While his medical expertise and accomplishments have touched and saved many lives, we believe his greatest accomplishment has been in the love, dedication and support he has given to the people of his native country. After building a home for his mother, Dr. Mortel endeavored to educate the poorest of the poor in St. Marc and the surrounding area by building Les Bons Samaritains School.
Dr. Mortel’s mother inspired him to accomplish great things and to make an indelible mark on the world. His contagious philanthropic spirit has inspired many to help bring his vision of educating the poorest of the poor to fruition. Our project has and continues to be inspired by his example. It is hard to imagine the powerful and boundless effect of a mother’s love. As Mother’s Day approaches, please consider honoring your mother or a special woman in your life through a donation to this project. Join us as we join Dr. Mortel in making a life changing difference in the lives of these Haitian children.
Thanks to your continued support, our project continues to grow both in Haiti and in Palmyra. Together we are creating opportunities for students that could not have even been imagined a few years ago.
In Haiti, the Les Bons Samaritains computer room has some of the most innovated education technology seen in any classroom. We have purchased Intel’s laptops known as the Classmate PC. This is an amazing product that is perfectly suited for our project and the challenging environment of a developing country. I encourage you to check out the video links in this update that show the Classmate PC’s features and capabilities. In addition to the laptops, an interactive white board brings amazing and engaging educational experiences to the students and connects them to the world in a way that blackboards never could.
In Palmyra, we are applying 21st century skills through our wiki project. Tony Wagner, a Harvard academic who studies change, leadership and education has identified 21st century skills students and leaders will need to thrive in an ever-changing global community.
Our Palmyra students have regularly applied these skills from this project’s beginnings in 2008 and those skills continue to be applied today. As our Palmyra students grow in these skills, they will be able to foster these skills in their peers in Haiti. What an amazing time we live in!
Your continued support is appreciated. There continues to be a need to make more of this technology available to our students in Haiti. With 20 computers serving nearly 600 students, we can increase the opportunity for more students to access this technology with more computers and training.
On Wednesday, March 16th, you have an opportunity to stretch your donation to our project through a GlobalGiving Matching offer. Starting at 12:01 am EST, GlobalGiving will match any donation of $1000 or less to our project by 30% until their matching fund pool of $75,000 runs out.
Songs have a way of inspiring action. As we recently passed the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, we were inspired by the lyrics of a song written to commemorate that event. We believe those lyrics exemplify what we are doing through your continued support.
We’ve been crumbled, we’ve been crushed City walls have turned to dust Broken hands and blistered feet We walk for miles to find relief When the thief takes, when our hopes cave You build us back You build us back When the earth shakes, when the world breaks You build us back You build us back (Build Us Back ~ Newsboys)
Thanks to you, we have been building back. On the Palmyra side of our project, our students have been involved in humanitarian efforts to feed the hungry in Haiti and raise funds to support our technology initiative there.
Recently, we were declared the fourth highest contributor in The Annual Cookie Sale To Combat World Hunger. Combined with last year’s effort, we have fed over 1,600 Haitians through the sale. Our students have also been selling sea bean seeds with inspirational pictures and phrases on them to support our work. We have adopted one of the sea bean quotations as a motto. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi) We are teaching our students in both Palmyra and Haiti to be the generation of change that will make the world a better place. Our sea beans are also a great symbol of what we are doing. We are planting seeds of hope through our technology initiative that will bear much fruit.
In addition to our sea bean sale, we recently created t-shirts for our project that are available for sale online. Proceeds from the sea bean and t-shirt sales also support our project.
On the Haiti side of our project, the students continued to make good use of their newly renovated computer room and the new Classmate PCs that you have made possible. On February 11th, fourteen GlobalGiving staff members put our project’s technology to the test by participating in a SKYPE video conference with our partner school in Haiti (Les Bons Samaritains). The session lasted nearly 30 minutes and gave both GlobalGiving and Les Bons Samaritains a glimpse into the power and potential behind the technology your contributions are creating.
Through all these successes, our need for support continues. The 20 laptops at Les Bons Samaritains are great, but few when put in the perspective of the school’s population of nearly 600 students. More laptops will make greater educational experiences available for larger number of students at the school. In addition, technology staffing costs, Internet connectivity costs and ongoing training in the usage of technology continues to require financial support.
Please mark the date of Tuesday, March 16th 2011, which is a GlobalGiving matching day. Starting at 12:01am EST, GlobalGiving will match any donation of $1000 or less to our project by 30% until their matching fund pool of $75,000 runs out.
You do “build us back” with your support. Thank you.
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Teacher / Project Director