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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 109 | March 8, 2009|


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Kansas student exchange information boxes with Bangladeshi schools

Star Campus Desk

WHAT seemed like an impossible dream is now a reality for some of the schools taking part in the GCEP (Global Connections and Exchange Program) activities in Bangladesh. Several GCEP school such as Rani Bilashmoni Govt. Boys High School, Uttar Badda Alia Madrasa and Joydepur Girls High school in Gazipur have bridged the international divide to engage in a unique cross cultural collaboration with John Marshall Middle School (JMMS) in Wichita Kansas known as the - THE STUDENT BOX EXCHANGE PROJECT.

This exchange was part of the latest GCE online collaborative project aimed to exchange information about a country and its culture. Both the participating schools in Bangladesh and the USA came to know each other through the Internet and exchanged numerous emails to plan and implement the Student Box Information project.

A bunch of anxious and eager 7th grade Bangladeshi boys and girls had opened the first box sent by the students of the JMMS in Kansas. The excitement and joy at receiving gifts from abroad was very much evident from their giggles and smiles as they unwrapped the gifts inside the box one after another. The gifts included wide variety of goodies. The JMMS students had left little notes on various items to ensure that the Bangladeshi students would know the proper use of each gift. Furthermore each of the JMMS students wrote a letter to invite the students of Bangladesh to visit their school and develop friendship.

The activity did not only lead the students to explore their own history and culture, but enabled them to develop correspondence skills and broaden their international knowledge while being immersed in a totally engaging activity. The exchange box also included several photographs of the sender along with many small gifts/tokens representing life in Kansas and its community. In this way JMMS teachers and Bangladeshi teachers also interacted side by side with students.

Meanwhile the students of Rani Bilashmoni Govt. Boys High School and Joydepur Girls School in Gazipur have also sent a similar “Gift Box” to the students of JMMS. Students have brought cultural tokens/gifts from home. RI SOL helped students to courier the box to schools in USA The box sent by the Bangladeshi students was received by the JMMS School in Texas just before the Thanksgiving Day.

This experience has put primary learning tools into the hands of students and engaged them in learning about the world beyond the borders thereby creating first contact between two different communities engaging in knowledge sharing and international exposure. Moreover this has surely made the children more globally and culturally aware as the children now know a great deal about Bengali and American Culture. This Exchange has not only enhanced the knowledge of the student about diverse cultures and society but also enabled them to view how they are different and yet same from their peers abroad.

Mr. Joseph Dunn, a 7th grade Social Studies teacher in Wichita Kansas was coordinating this project with the Bangladeshi schools.

As the world continues to shrink, the need for collaborative, cultural education is becoming imperative to enhance knowledge sharing. There remains a significant level of uncertainty concerning globalization and its impact due to the lack of diversity and international experiences in Bangladesh. Global Connections and Exchange program (www.connect-bangladesh.org) aims to bridge this gap by connecting the rural and urban school children of Bangladesh to the rest of the world using modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The initiative has got a new momentum with the rapid expansion of Internet connectivity even to the remotest areas in Bangladesh. The ECA supported program runs high quality training and capacity building in technology, in the educational context, the utilization of ICT for civic education, strong community involvement and a focus on girls in secondary schools and madrasas in Bangladesh. The project is now operating in 51 Internet enabled computer centers in rural and urban schools in 21 districts across Bangladesh. Each center is equipped with 5-10 computers, wireless Internet connectivity, digital and web camera, printer, scanner and different other accessories.

The Students Box Exchange project aims to expand in the coming months with the launch of RI-SOL's new initiative 'Alliance for 21st Century Skills” which will facilitate societal transformation and economic development by equipping the growing Bangladeshi youth and adult workforce with 21st century skills so that it is ready to compete in the global economy.

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