ANCC Newark, New Jersey U.S.A. and
Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa
Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center
The scope of the Ambassador Program expanded to reach students in each of the cities and countries highlighted above. In 2012, we connected schools in Ghana, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia, Canada and 44 states in the US.
Oiada International O’ia-da International Inc (www.oiadaintl.org) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. Oiada has been dedicated to providing educational programs and services that empower students to become global citizens. Oiada opened its 21st century videoconferencing centers, the Akoma Ntoso Cultural Centers (ANCC), in NJ and Ghana on October 3, 2009 with a generous donation from Polycom. To date, Polycom has donated over $300,000 worth of telepresence equipment to our organization. Since the opening of our centers, over 75,000 students in over 44 states in the US and several countries throughout the world have participated in our programs. The primary goal of the ANCC is to increase student test scores, decrease drop-out rates, reduce the achievement gap of schools and to increase the life skills of students in underserved communities around the globe. Our videoconference centers bring the classroom to life for the students while at the same time serving to increase their language arts, writing, public speaking, presentation, research, foreign language, creative and critical thinking skills. Among the technology introduced to the students are basic computer skills, green screen, broadcasting and videoconference technology. Through “LIVE” face to face educational and cultural exchanges, students become excited about learning. We empower students to take charge of their educational experiences and assist them in their preparation for college and the work force. Two things we witness in our programs are the students' increase in selfesteem and the change in perception that students of different ethnicities have of their international peers. In the beginning of some of the sessions, students have stated that they were ashamed of being from a particular continent because of negative stereotypes associated with that continent. Afterward, students were able to speak with pride about their homeland because of what they learned through the "LIVE" experience. Teachers have stated that the program is in a word "phenomenal"! Our programs integrate social studies and other core curriculum subjects with technology empowering students to take charge of their educational experience while providing leadership and character development. We are an invaluable resource to teachers who are interested in promoting global and experiential learning as well as assisting students to prepare for college and the work force. In 2010, we were selected to be a premier content provider for the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, CILC (www.cilc.org). CILC helps schools advance learning through videoconferencing and other collaborative technologies. Our programs quickly became the most requested within the distance learning community, and we won a CILC Pinnacle Award for Content for the 2010-2011 school year. The awards are presented annually to providers who post top-ranking programs for K-12 students or professional development of educators. These awards are based exclusively on feedback from teachers who have used the content in their classrooms or for their own professional advancement. Oiada is proud to announce that we have won this award for the 2012-2013 school year as well. Oiada currently enjoys partnerships with the New Jersey Amistad Commission, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) and the Newark Museum. We have included the names of our many corporate sponsors on our sponsors’ page. Our premier sponsor is the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation.
[The following article is taken from the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation website] In 2012, board members of the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation visited our center for the first time to experience a telepresence program between St. Philip’s Academy (NJ) and Mate Masie School in Ghana, Africa. The students in Ghana talked about the history of their country, fun things to do in Ghana and their favorite foods. During the program, the board members and the students from St. Philip’s Academy had an opportunity to actually taste a traditional Ghanaian dish called Fufu. Everyone agreed that the meal was delicious and that the program was amazing! On May 8, 2013, Gee Rittenhouse, President of Bell Labs, and Barbara Landmann, Chief Quality and EHS Officer, visited our center in Newark to discuss our latest plans of establishing an International Science/Technology Team Program with Bell Labs. The students from Mate Masie in Ghana kicked the visit off with a program that showcased world famous Ghanaian and African-American inventors that worked at Bell Labs. We included a short biography of Barbara and Gee. At the end of the program we had a special surprise for them. The band in Ghana performed Oiada’s “Alcatel-Lucent” song and a special song for Barbara that captured her joyful spirit. Music and the arts form an integral part of our educational programs. The song, “I Can See Clearly Now” was selected because the word “lucent” literally means shining and clear. The members of Oiada thought it only fitting to apply the words of the song to this worldwide technology leader in telecommunications. As an added thank you, our band in Ghana performed a song for Gee. In conversations with him, we knew that he liked to play the drums. We had a drum set at our center in Newark so that Gee could “jam” with the band in Ghana via telepresence! In the pictures below you can see Gee playing the drums along with our band in Ghana. Both of our musical tributes brought joy and gladness to the employees of Alcatel-Lucent. The friendship and support of the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation is an instrumental part of our ever increasing global network. The Alcatel-Lucent Foundation’s support has helped to expand our programs’ outreach to over 44 states in the US and several countries around the world. As the demand for our programs increases, so does our need for increased funding.
PROGRAM EXPANSION FOR 2013-2014
In addition to our award winning flagship Ambassador Program, this year we are excited to announce the implementation of two new program components: the International Science/Technology Team Program and the Circle of Friends Program. THE AMBASSADOR PROGRAM The Ambassador Program offers American students and students from around the world an opportunity to team with a sister school in Cape Coast, Ghana and take learning beyond the four walls of the school building. Students are afforded the opportunity to represent their country, their school and themselves as cultural ambassadors. The Ambassador Program enables students to connect on a very real, “LIVE”, face to face, culture to culture level and to discover for themselves their commonality. Our distance learning exchange program has inspired students and teachers on all continents to see new and unique ways of learning and sharing. The program not only provides educational lessons on an international platform but develops cultural awareness, relationships and practical life experiences by putting knowledge to work in the service of one’s peers abroad. This program will function as a first step towards the students becoming lifelong global citizens. Students take virtual field trips to international landmarks such as the Elmina Slave Dungeons which President Barack Obama visited with his family. Within the slave dungeon is a “Door of No Return” through which enslaved Africans departed their shores never to return. Despite the door’s fearsome past, through our innovative international telepresence sessions, not only are we returning to a historic land but we are turning a once feared “Door of No Return” into an “Open Door of Opportunity” to forge ties between students of disparate lands. International students will have an opportunity to take virtual trips to important US sites such as the World Trade Center. Students will visit the site of 9/11 attacks and get to see the new One World Trade Center commonly known as Freedom Tower. We will also host a series of Inspiration and Career Day sessions in which we invite prominent individuals to host an international mentoring session with students in the US and around the world. The President of Bell Labs, Gee Rittenhouse, and Alcatel-Lucent Chief Quality and EHS Officer, Barbara Landmann, both agreed to be guest inspirational speakers during the upcoming school semester. The Ambassador Program offers two semester-long projects for elementary, middle school and high school students. The Research Project (First Semester) Students on both sides of the ocean will meet regularly via telepresence to share research conducted on selected topics. The final presentation will be showcased at a “LIVE” event with invited guests including parents, teachers and government officials. The Community Service Project (Second Semester) The second semester will build upon the relationships established between the students during the first semester. Both sides will partner in a project that will benefit a school or village in Ghana. The Ghanaian students will be asked to contact schools and teachers in Ghana to ascertain the needs of these schools and how we can be of assistance to them. The US students will engage in fundraising activities, explore corporate sponsorships and solicit donations with which they will be able to make definitive strides toward meeting the needs of the Ghanaian students. The successful completion of the project will require constant meeting and coordination between the US and Ghanaian students via telepresence throughout the semester. The ANCC (Ghana) is located in Cape Coast, which is Ghana’s educational hub and home to some of the best schools in the country. The region has 1,207 primary schools, 856 junior secondary schools and 49 senior secondary schools. It boasts some of the best secondary schools in the country and is home to two universities. Our Ambassador Program has been successfully integrated into the curriculum of several prominent local boarding schools, including Wesley Girls’ High School, St. Augustine College, Mfantsipim School, and Adisadel College. Through the successful expansion of our program to the Accra region last year, thousands of additional students gained access to the cutting edge technology. Despite the fact that the region boasts some of the best schools in the country and is home to two universities, very few students in the rural areas and villages have access to technology or the ability to travel to our centers. This year, we are looking to purchase a vehicle to provide transportation to bring those students to our centers so that they too can participate in our programs.
THE OIADA INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY TEAM PROGRAM Summary: The goal of this program is to motivate students to study and pursue careers in science and technology and to support teachers in this process. Toward that end, the President of Bell Labs, Gee Rittenhouse has pledged his support so that students will have the opportunity to be mentored by Bell Labs’ scientists and researchers in NJ and from around the world. Another unique aspect of our program is that students will be working in an international context with their peers from another country. Students will not only enhance their understanding of scientific and technological issues but will gain invaluable cross cultural learning experiences while working on a science project with international students. Through participation in our global science program, the students’ minds will be opened to a world of new possibilities in terms of their futures while providing them with invaluable core curriculum skills. Program description: At the beginning of the semester, students from Newark area high schools will meet via telepresence videoconferencing technology with their counterparts in Ghana to introduce themselves and to gain information about each other’s culture to enable them to work better as a team. Following the introductory meeting, students will take a tour of Bell Labs and meet with scientists and researchers. The students will then be presented with a list of science and technology projects from which to choose. The students from both sides will choose which project they decide to tackle together. The Newark and Ghanaian students will meet during the month to discuss findings, problems, challenges and possible solutions to their project. Monthly, students in Newark will travel to Bell Labs to meet with the scientists and researchers to gain instruction and guidance on their selected projects. The Ghanaian students will join via telepresence. End of Semester Science Fair: At the conclusion of each semester, the participants from Newark and Ghana will jointly present their accomplished projects to an assembly of parents, teachers, administrators and Bell Labs scientists. The students will openly share the challenges they faced and the strategies that they used to overcome any difficulties. They will also discuss the experience of working with their international counterparts. The students may also choose to discuss ideas that they have for future international collaborations and scientific issues they would like to address. THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDS One aspect of the “Circle of Friends” program will create a network of all organizations that Alcatel-Lucent supports. It will enable all of the organizations to participate via telepresence in Oiada’s educational and cultural programs as well as in each other’s programs. Each organization has a unique program that responds to a particular challenge around the world. The Circle of Friends allows these organizations to collaborate and combine their resources for a greater outcome than they could achieve individually. Connecting this network of “Friends” will expand the reach of all the participating organizations. Another way we will utilize the Circle of Friends is with the ALU employees and their children. The ALU employees will identify schools in their area of the world. It may be the school that their children attend. We will connect their school with a school in another part of the world that another ALU employee has identified. The ALU employees will then have the opportunity to discuss their area of expertise in an international forum with students from around the world. The international sharing will help to create an even greater sense of community among the ALU employees and families worldwide. Alcatel-Lucent Communications Director, Marco Malfavon, is working with us to establish connections with schools in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our equipment will enable participation in the videoconferencing sessions on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. ALU employees on tight schedules can connect from their office, hotel, and so on. Guest speakers from Alcatel-Lucent worldwide can speak to multiple programs simultaneously, reaching greater audiences at one time. ALU employees can literally plug in at the click of a button from wherever they are in the world.
INTERNATIONAL IMPACT OF OUR PROGRAMS Oiada is privileged to be in a position to bring technology to students in the underserved areas of the world. For many of these students, this marks their first contact with the world outside their country. Videoconferencing technology literally opens up new worlds to them. What they often find is that despite the cultural and economic differences that may exist, at heart they share many of the same interests and passions. Our programs provide them with the ability to share information with their counterparts around the world. There is no greater feeling than seeing the students’ eyes light up as they realize that they are speaking to students on another continent. The students are always full of questions, and, in the end, they realize that we are all part of one human family. There is a pride and self-confidence that is established when students realize that the differences that do exist are to be appreciated. When students have pride about who they are and where they are from, this has a positive effect on their ability and desire to learn. This in turn fosters a greater positive outlook and hope in their futures.
The programs of the ANCC provide access to 21st century technology to underserved communities throughout the world. Our programs make digital inclusion a reality for thousands of students who would otherwise be left behind. Such innovative programs as our International Science/Technology Team Program provide underserved students with exposure to and the opportunity to learn from some of Bell Labs top researchers and scientists worldwide. The cross cultural exposure and innovative modes of delivery open up whole new worlds for the students and enable them to compete and survive in today’s global environment.
Oiada’s programs seek to expose students to careers in business, science and technology. Toward that end, we invite corporate personnel to come and share insight into their careers and daily work routines with our students. In this way, students from around the world are able to expand their vision of what is possible and set their sights properly to attain their goals. We wholeheartedly invite the participation of ALU’s employees in the US and around the world to share their expertise and stories with the students. Alcatel-Lucent’s John Ayitevie, Business Development Manager in Ghana, introduced us to a school in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. This school participated in the grand opening of our ANCC center in Accra, which was made possible by the grant we received from Alcatel-Lucent in 2012. To implement the International Science/ Technology Team Program, we will be utilizing scientists and researchers from Bell Labs worldwide as mentors and instructors to lead the various science projects. The “Circle of Friends” program will enable networking between employees of Alcatel-Lucent and all organizations that Alcatel-Lucent supports. All ALU employees will have the opportunity to join with us as we participate in ALU’s Global Days of Caring. Working with the employees of Alcatel-Lucent will play a major part of our expansion plans moving forward.
We will generate a shared news release between Oiada International and Alcatel-Lucent at the end of the program period to highlight our work and our successes. During the program period, we will feature stories and testimonies from teachers, administrators, community members and students on the Oiada website and in our newsletter. Over time, as the programs have been implemented or revised, we will compile exemplary training units from our participants to be shared through our ongoing education and professional development activities. Finally, we will produce a project report to Alcatel-Lucent that is based on the data we have collected. Beyond the initial program period, we would like to produce and widely disseminate a series of instructional guides that describe the methodologies we use to implement and sustain a telepresence learning community for educators. Included in these materials will be how to: (a) work with local and regional community partners, (b) create and sustain learning communities, (c) seek funding, (d) develop professional development and coaching for teaching professionals, and (e) conduct effective program evaluation. The program will employ objective measures that will yield qualitative and quantitative data that will be used formatively to drive continuous improvement and to determine overall effectiveness. Program design, development, implementation and assessment will revolve around 4 questions relevant to organizational change in the first year of the project: 1- Do the digital program activities contribute to creating responsible students and who will ultimately be come global citizens and community leaders? 2- Did the program decrease the digital divide between the underserved students? 3 â€“ Do the digital program activities result in changes in teaching practices? 4 â€“ Are the students showing improvement in their core curriculum studies and social skills? Qualitative data will be collected to determine the effectiveness of the program services. Data will be gathered at baseline, as well as at various intervals following the baseline. Qualitative data from interviews, open -ended survey items, student and teacher reflections and some observational data are more suited to qualitative analysis approaches that identify themes and provide contextual information. Data from project records, group discussions, and program service data will be analyzed and summarized biannually. In summary, we have grown as an organization to become a leading provider of 21st century telepresence learning for children of all ages in the US, Ghana and around the world thanks to the remarkable generosity and growing ranks of supporters such as the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation who recognize the importance of investing in the education of children.
Accra Opening November 19th, 2012 marked a new chapter for Oiada International with the grand opening of its Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center (ANCC) facility in the Ghanaian capital city of Accra. Located in the luxurious Coconut Grove Regency Hotel and funded through the support of AlcatelLucent, the recent expansion means that thousands of Ghanaian students from the Accra re- gion will now be able to par- ticipate in edu- cational and cultural ex- changes with students from around the world!
Akoma Ntoso Celebration A CELEBRATION OF HEROES - We celebrated Black History Month by saluting and honoring NJ and Ghanaian community members who have helped enrich the lives of others. Our US honorees included Newark City Council President Donald Payne Jr.;; Mayor Wayne Smith of Irvington, NJ;; and East Orange Councilwoman Andrea McPhatter. Our Ghanaian honorees included Ghanaian Presidential Candidate Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and Maxwell Ju- mah, a member of Parliament and founder of the Africa Newark Organization. The celebra- tion took place at the Newark Museum and featured art and music from both continents. Sponsored by Investors Bank and Provident Bank, the event also featured representatives from the Newark Explorers.
Transatlantic Celebration In April, we celebrated our 2nd Annual Transatlantic Celebration. The event highlighted contributions Africans and African-Americans have made throughout the world. The event was viewed by thousands throughout the U.S and worldwide via telecast made available through one of our premier corporate partners Polycom. The event was spon- sored by The Verizon Foundation whose President Rose Kirk served as our keynote speaker. The event targeted students, parents, educators, administrators, school district officials, diplomats, elected officials and community members. The celebration featured “LIVE” face to face interaction between participants from schools in the US and Ghana. We had over 400 students from middle schools and high schools throughout the state of NJ attend the event. Selected U.S students made presentations on African and African-American history to their Ghanaian peers and were judged by a select panel of judges. One prize was awarded to both the winning middles school and the winning high school. The goal of the event was to celebrate and share African and Afri- can-American history and culture on an international platform and to introduce the program to officials who can help implement the program throughout the world!
Inspiration Day One of our goals at the ANCC is to give students access and exposure to positive role models and leaders in the corporate and nonprofit worlds. Toward that end, we established a series of Inspi- ration Day chats in which our international students could hear from and interact with some of today’s business leaders. Hearing from corporate leaders around the world helps students to pre- pare for the college and the global corporate work force. In 2012, our participants included the President of the Verizon Foundation, Rose Kirk;; the former President of the PSE&G Foundation, Vaughn McKoy;; the former President of Essex County College, Dr. Zachary Yamba;; the Global CIO for Deloitte, Larry Quinlan and Newark Councilman Darrin Sharif.
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Response from the Education Community
The Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center has enjoyed an enthusiastic response from the education community. Here are a few of the comments we have received.
Tia Esposito, Videoconferencing Coordinator Boston College High School, Boston, MA I am wri ng to recommend the services of O’ia-da Interna onal and Eric Jones. Eric has been working with our school for the past two years providing the most informa ve and interac ve videoconferences our school has ever had the privilege of experiencing. This year our students are part of O’ia-da Interna onal’s Ambassador program with the Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center in Cape Coast Ghana and are learning alongside the students of a school in West Africa. The students from our school are with our Associa on for Diversity in Ac on and truly their learning has been enhanced by leaps and bounds, going beyond the limits of our school building and connec ng with students half way around the world. It has been tremendously exci ng to see the enthusiasm in the students faces on both sides of the videoconference screen. Our students represent ages 14-18, in grades 9–12, likewise there is a mix of students in the school in West Africa. Both innova ve and fun, the students meet once each month together, and work during the rest of the month on projects that both sides present when they meet again. It is so much be er when students learn about another culture from the people in the culture themselves. Last year, at a videoconfer-‐ ence a class did with the school in Cape Coast West Africa, for example, our students had been learning about slavery. The textbook referred to “slave castles” in Ghana. When the students from Ghana met with our students in Boston, our students realized in a very “real” way, that the term “slave castle” was not an appropriate term for the atroci es that were commi ed in Ghana during this period in me—especially to the people in Ghana. Examples such as this abound from our experiences with O’ia-da Interna onal’s videocon-‐ ference programs. The Ambassador Program in par cular has proven to be par cularly enlightening for our students, as together they are on a journey of learning with students in Ghana. Research on various subjects is done by students on both sides of the Atlan c Ocean and then dis-‐ cussed together from diﬀerent points of view, combining their eﬀorts and cultural knowledge to form a broader understanding of the world around them. Truly, this is global ci zenship in ac on. Thanks to Eric Jones and O’ia-da Interna onal our students have been able to interact culture-to-culture and discover for them-‐ selves how very much alike we all really are, despite our cultural diﬀerences. The students love to discuss sports, and are surprised to ﬁnd how far reaching this commonality will go. This Cultural Exchange program has inspired our students and our teachers to reach beyond their textbooks and to experience a unique way of learning. The Ambassador Program has greatly enhanced our school’s oﬀer-‐ ings here at Boston College High School. I feel conﬁdent in recommending Eric Jones and O’ia-da Interna onal’s programs. As its representa ve, Eric is not only thorough, but also easy to work with, always willing to take the me to discuss and respond to ques ons the teachers at our school may have, and to make sure that each and every videoconference runs smoothly. Our school does over 100 videoconferences each year, and by far, our videoconferences with O’ia-da Interna onal have been the most worthwhile. I am sure that our students will never forget the classes they had jointly with the classes in Ghana.
To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter to recommend the services of Oiada International to all schools. Darryl Batts has been working with the Twin Groves Middle School health classes located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois this year to setup several teleconferences between my students and the students in Ghana, Africa. When I first inquired about the project I was excited that my students would learn about the African culture and more im- portantly about building relationships outside of our community. After our first teleconference, my 7th grade students were thrilled to have the opportunity to see and speak to students from not only a different continent, but a different culture. I first told my students that we would be taking a virtual flight "Flight 777" to Ghana, Africa. Students were so happy to take a field trip and even more excited during our experience. Each school discussed interesting topics as we "got to know" each oth- er. My students learned about African culture and what the African family structure looks like. The students from Ghana learned about life in Illinois and asked about misconceptions they heard of about Americans. We also talked about stressors both in the US and in Africa and compared one another. Since then, we have had three other "get togethers" with the students in Ghana and each one is more remarkable. Students still come to me each day and ask me if we are going to travel to Africa today. Parents have said that this was an "eye-opening" ex- perience that every child should experience. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity and hope that we can continue to have successful interactions with the students in Ghana for years to come! Sincerely, Ben Leven Health Teacher Twin Groves Middle School
SMES Students Study Literature Alongside Students in Ghana and Gain Global Understanding Over the course of the last two months, Mr. Peter Clark’s grade 10 English class has taken a stateof-the-art, virtual journey more than 7,500 miles to Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa. The class has been teleconferencing with Ghanaian students for discussions on the book Things Fall A part by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Book discussions quickly evolved into captivating and eyeopening revelations between the classes about each other and how everyday life differs in each other’s part of the world, says Mr. Clark. “After Darla Magana (director of library and media center) and Karen Angus (web librarian) noti- fied me about the opportunity, I participated in a teleconference with the Ghanaian teachers in October to discuss our shared reading of Achebe’s Things Fall A part,” said Mr. Clark. “We creat- ed a schedule where students would read and discuss the three parts of the novel utilizing their unique positions as U.S. and Ghanaian students.” St. Margaret’s has established an academic task force to look at global education opportunities such as this to give a better under- standing of the importance of domestic and international diversity. Additionally, the task force aims to pique a need for crossdiscipline 21st century curricular projects and exchanges with partner schools and organizations, deepen service learning and sustainability efforts, further enhance the Independent Senior Project program, and strengthen ties with the St. Margaret’s grow- ing alumni and parent body. During the first classroom meeting, the Ghanaian teachers and students warmly welcomed St. Margaret’s students with songs and introductions before sharing a bit of their country’s rich history and culture. As the students continued to meet each week, they discussed Things Fall A part, one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa. Conversations would often deviate from the book when either a Ghanaian student or a St. Margaret’s students would ask more personal questions about family, religion or politics in order to better understand each oth- er’s cultures. “The Things Fall A part Ghana student exchange was an incredible experience,” said sophomore Gabrielle Axelson. “As a class we were able to connect with students thousands of miles away discussing things from everyday life to characters in the book. It was amazing to see how much we had in common with the students on a whole other continent. I personally felt that I had a real- ly special connection with the students, mainly because I am traveling to Ghana for a service trip next summer. Upon hearing this news, everyone on the other side of the camera was excited, encouraging, and really made me feel like I would be welcomed with open arms. The kindness in their hearts really made the whole excursion less scary, and I plan on following their advice by ‘keeping an open mind, and embracing everything around me.’ From this experience I learned that you should never limit your- self to the people or culture around you. There is so much more of life to discover, if you are open to seeing it.” Academic Dean Dr. Jeneen Graham said of the class project, “Technology has fundamentally transformed the interconnectedness of humanity across the globe. The power of the interaction between the St. Margaret’s and the Ghana students is an extraordinary example of educating hearts and minds for lives of learning, leadership and service. We will continue to develop and broaden these learning opportunities for all of our students and help them to develop the knowledge and sensitivity that is critical to being a global citizen.” Founded through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration and facilitated by O’ia-da International Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center in Newark, New Jersey, the Ghana videoconferencing program connects students in the U.S. and Africa in order to break down barriers of stereotyping that contribute to cultural misunderstandings. “It is essential that sustained relationships between schools are established so that true relationships–the give and take of friend- ships–takes hold. These students now know each other’s names, discuss their own lives, discuss their country’s politics, and know a bit more about what life is like in Cape Coast, Ghana and Southern California,” added Mr. Clark.
Thank you Thank you Thank you! This is our first time with your company the teachers and students were WOWED! The teacher and students from the 1st grade class in Ghana did a amazing job representing their school and country. Because this was our first time we were not as prepared as we should have been. But the teacher we visited with said she would like to connect again. Would that be possible? We would really like to give a better look at our school and village here in Cazenovia New York. When the word gets to the other teachers in our building they will want to connect as well, so we will be in contact I know this program was free and I see you do charge for events, how does this work? Thank you again so much for taking us to Africa. Becky Fuller Cazenovia Central School District Cazenovia, New York
WOW! and that word really does not do jus ce to the classroom students in Ghana. They were so professional and ar culate! Great presenta on, songs, and ques ons. Please relay our appre-‐ cia on to them and their teacher. Our students learned a lot and enjoyed the Q & A session and the ability to interact with students thousands of miles away. Thomas Friedman wrote a book a few years back called "The World is Flat" and with today's technology and events like this...we certainly are neighbors playing in a ﬂa ened world. THANKS so much for providing this WONDERFUL opportunity to our students. Richard Sands Universal Technology Access Group-Telepresence Carrollton-Farmers Branch I.S.D. That was one of the most extraordinary presentations I have ever seen. Our students are still raving about it. SAGE is an alternative high school and our students were somewhat reluctant to speak out at first but your kids were so enthusiastic and interesting they came out of their shells and started asking questions which is MAJOR for them. Thanks so much for the opportunity. I feel like we made some new friends and I hope we will hear from you all again!
Nonya Brown-Chesney Media Coordinator SAGE Academy 501 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Siler City NC 27344
It was fantastic. Our kids really enjoyed themselves and were impressed by their knowledge of our current events and of their country's resources. The presentation by your students and question session was a hit! Our kids asked when they could do it again! Thank you so much for the opportunity to reach out to Ghana. Linda May Digital Learning Coach Edgewood High School
Our session was amazing. I would love to send a follow up email to the teacher at the other end. She did a fabulous job. WE learned so much. We even showed them some snow today. Happy Computing, Kristen Magyar Elementary Computers Highland Falls Fort Montgomery Central School District
I cannot thank you enough for your assistance in our recent series of video conferences with the Mate Masie School in Ghana. Our exchanges were wonderful. What I most appreciated was the insight our stu-‐ dents gained into the lives and culture of these wonderful children. Our preconcep ons (we Americans o en see the world through a straw) were turned 180 degrees, and my students saw young people in Africa with whom they had much in common. In fact, I am currently in communica on with Mate Masie to see how we might con nue our connec ons. Please keep us in mind with any ideas or projects you have, for I am commi ed to seeing that our li le learning community remains connected with others in sharing, learning and understanding.I have added you as a friend on Capspace. -Jay Trevorrow, Director of Technology University Ligge School 1045 Cook Road Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236 I thought I would forward a response I received from one of the teachers, as an example of how it went to- day. It was AWESOME!! All 4 classrooms were extremely happy that they made the decision to join the conference with the Ghana students. They all expressed a desire to connect again to share more with the stu- dents. Ronald Tucker Browning Public Schools Instructional Technology Facilitator
Theresa A. Radline, Assistant Director, Queen City Academy Charter School, Plainfield, NJ “I would like to thank you for hosting a won- derful day of exciting interaction and discussion with the students of Ghana. I was unaware of what an impact this program would truly have on our students.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the most pleasant people in full African dress. This made the experience even more intriguing and true to life. Our students were commenting on how beautiful everyone
As we were tuned into the students of Ghana, I could feel the excitement in the room. They were all stretching their heads and making sure they could see everything on the big screen. While the ambience and the experience itself was wonderful, it was the information and the traditions your students shared that made our trip to the center so much more fulfilling. Our student came to the center with misconceived notions of what children in Ghana were like and what school life would be like in Africa. They left with an understanding that the children of Ghana are just like them. They were able to appreciate the traditions through the “Name” song you shared and through questioning each other and sharing.”
Samuel Garrison, Social Studies Chaiperson, Central High School, Newark, NJ “I am writing this letter on the behalf of Central High School to thank the Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center for bringing history to life by making Ghana not just a place but an experience for African American History Month. The exchange of cultures through song, dance, poetry readings, speeches and questioning and answering was aligned with our 9th grade theme The Traveler. It was an incredible opportunity for our students to travel across the world without leaving home. Many of our students will never actually go to Ghana, but thanks to the ANCC many will feel as if they have been there, and for some, their myopic view of Africa will be forever changed. We look forward to many more collaborative efforts with the ANCC that will enlighten our school and bring awareness to the African in African American history.”
Julie M. Tovay-Ryder, Social Studies Dept., Franklin High School, Franklin, NJ “Our students had a remarkable time learning about the history, economics, geography, social and political structure and the culture of Ghana. The exchange of questions and answers between students was truly 21st century learning. All the students agreed that our time together was too short for there were so many more questions they had to ask. The following day the students came to class singing the song they heard the day before. I had the students look their Akan names and they are proudly displaying those names on their school papers. We were truly amazed at the similarities between the students and fascinated by the differences. We were honored to build a bridge across the Atlantic Ocean to better understand another culture. Much appreciation for your wonderful program.”
Vincent Przybylinski, Principal, Pompton Lakes High School “You provided our students a unique and unforgettable oppor- tunity to interact with youngsters from West Africa and to learn firsthand about their education, history and culture. I was quite impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm exhibited by the facilitators and the friendship that was quickly established among the learners from both parts of the world. The positivity and sense of respect that permeated the learning environment was truly appreciable.”
Nick Vancheri, Social Studies Supervisor, Clifton Public Schools, Clifton, NJ “The excitement and enthusiasm in the room, as well as in the building in the days that followed, will be un- matched by any other lesson that these students participate in this year. These students undoubtedly went home and did additional research on Ghana; not because they had to as a homework assignment, but because they had a thirst for knowledge. It is this “thirst for knowledge” that we need to instill in our students so they can become engaged in the material, and so they can compete and succeed in the global workforce. As a social studies teacher and supervisor who unfortunately never studied any type of African History until my third year in college, this was a truly momentous occasion and it was very satisfying to see the misconceptions of middle school students dispelled at such a young age. This small glimpse into the future of education has not only affected Christopher Columbus Middle School, but it has drawn the attention of our high school, our other middle school and our fourteen elementary schools. We would love an opportunity to work again with O’ia-da International because the benefits of lessons like this are unmatched by anything else.”
Sponsors Oiada would like to thank all of the organizations and corporations that help make our work possible. We would especially like to thank Polycom Corporation for continuing to supply us with the latest state of the art telepresence technology which is the hallmark of the Akoma Ntoso Cultural Centers. We also would like to thank Alcatel-Lucent for donating $50,000 and making it possible to open our newest cultural center in Accra, Ghana.
AKOMA NTOSO CULTURAL CENTER
AKOMA NTOSO CULTURAL 191 Central Ave Newark, NJ 07103 (973) 732-3188 CENTER 191 Central Ave Newark, NJ 07103 (973) 732-3188 www.oiadaintl.org