Fostering Global Citizenship through Skype
Guest post by Sarah Byrne
CHAT to the Future is a growing registered charity based in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada committed to education, global citizenship, and ending the cycle of extreme poverty. They unify these three concepts through the integration of technology into the lives of North American students.
CHAT itself stands for Care and Hope through the Adoption of Technology. CHAT runs a small orphans’ home in Kasangati, Uganda and uses the power of North American schools to fully fund everything from rent to education.
The real power in what CHAT does comes from Skype and their ability to connect the kids in Uganda to students of all ages across America and Canada. The kids in Uganda Skype for three hours each week, spending half hour installments talking to their friends, singing, learning, and sharing. This connection allows children in North American classrooms to expand their worldview and learn about a different culture through friendship and hands-on experience. Most importantly, it inspires global thinking in our students and facilitates global citizenship.
Technology has allowed teachers in this generation to access guest speakers, create digital meet-ups with other classrooms, and keep parents connected at the click of a button. CHAT wants to play a part by connecting kids via Skype and giving teachers the resources to integrate technology into their classrooms. When a class Skypes with children from Uganda, they are not only making new friends, but making global-minded connections.
One of the common problems with technology in the classroom is funding – new technology is expensive, and finding creative ways to utilize existing technology can be next to impossible. Webcams and Skype are two things that most classrooms are already equipped with, allowing them to participate easily without cost.
Not only does CHAT give teachers the opportunity to integrate technology into the classroom, but it also allows for students to come up with innovative and entrepreneurial projects that help them raise funds for their friends in Uganda. This engages students into a new kind of thinking, encouraging them to come up with ideas and solve problems. CHAT then ensures that the students have the skills and means to realize those ideas.
Currently, CHAT is working with a school in Colorado, who have partnered up with schools in Canada, Uganda and the Dominican Republic to create the One Million Lights campaign. Students at the Colorado school are 3D printing rechargeable lanterns that will be sent to areas where constant electricity is not a reality. Preston Middle School of Fort Collins, CO has made the prototype, while Riverview High School in New Brunswick, Canada worked on the electrical innovation.
These lanterns are being sent to CHAT House in Uganda as well as a school in the Dominican Republic to be tested and reviewed. After the reviews are in and the prototype is perfected, the designs and circuitry will be published for anyone to replicate. Of course, their Ugandan friends have already seen the prototypes over Skype.
What these schools are doing is an extraordinary example of the innovation, entrepreneurship, technological advancement, and global citizenship that CHAT to the Future is all about. Every year CHAT continues to see growth in our students both in North America and in Uganda. Connectivity in the classroom is important, and CHAT is happy to be a part of it.
Sarah is a CHAT to the Future intern completing her second summer with the organization. She is passionate about education and currently working her way towards her BEd. Other pieces by Sarah can be found at www.chattothefuture.ca