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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 ( 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 ( 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.


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 – Do the digital program activities result in changes in teaching practices? 4 – 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!

Ambassador Program

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

Reflections (continued)

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.”

Reflections (continued)

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   191  Central  Ave  Newark,  NJ  07103 (973)  732-3188 CENTER 191  Central  Ave  Newark,  NJ  07103 (973)  732-3188

Alcatel Lucent Proposal 2013