ANCC Newark, New Jersey U.S.A. and
Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa
AKOMA NTOSO CULTURAL CENTER
IN REVIEW 2012
Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center
MISSION STATEMENT Oiada International (www.oiadaintl.org) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to providing educational programs and services that compliment a school's core curriculum. Oiada’s latest project is the Akoma Ntoso Cultural Centers (ANCC). The ANCC is currently connecting students in the U.S., Africa and around the world by utilizing our 21st century telepresence educational centers. We facilitate “LIVE" face to face connection between students from around the globe. The primary goal of the ANCC is to increase student test scores, decrease drop-out rates and to reduce the achievement gap of underachieving schools. Through “LIVE” face to face educational and cultural exchanges, students become excited about learning. Our telepresence 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 and critical thinking skills. We are an invaluable resource to teachers who are interested in accelerated learning methods and in promoting global and experiential learning. More global corporations are beginning to utilize videoconferencing as a cost efficient way of doing business. Through our integration of education, history, culture and other core curriculum subjects with technology, we are empowering students to take charge of their educational experience while providing leadership and character development. We empower students to take charge of their educational experience and assist them in their preparation for college and the global corporate work force.
The Inside 2012 marked a year of exceptional growth for Oiada International! Over 75,000 students in several countries have experienced the educational programs and services at our Akoma Ntoso Cultural Centers (ANCC). In 2012, we connected schools in Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia, additional provinces in Canada and additional states in the US. By utilizing "Telepresence” technology, we brought people of all nations face to face, thus, eliminating the oceans of water and misconceptions that separate us. We had tremendous growth in our flagship program, The Ambassador Program. This program allows students to learn from one another via “LIVE” conversations with their peers. They no longer have to rely solely on books or on the media. This innovative way of learning helps to eliminate the misconceptions and myths that may still exist among us all. Currently, global corporations are utilizing videoconferencing as a cost efficient way of doing business. Through our integration of history and other core curriculum subjects with technology, we are empowering students to take charge of their educational experience while providing leadership and character development. We are an invaluable resource in assisting students to prepare for college and the global work force. One of the highlights of the past year was the opening of our newest center on November 19th in the capital city of Accra, Ghana. In attendance was John Ayitieve, a representative from our latest corporate sponsor, Alcatel-Lucent. Alcatel-Lucent donated $50,000 which enabled us to open our center at the luxurious Coconut Grove Regency Hotel and expand our program to thousands of Ghanaians. At our inaugural event, students from the Accra region connected with schools in the US, Russia and Canada for an international telepresence celebration. Our ability to connect to multiple schools, organizations, and countries is made possible through the Polycom Real Presence Collaboration Server. The Polycom RMX 2000 Real-Time Media Conferencing Platform is an advanced IP-based platform for simplified multipoint conferencing. The server was the latest donation from our premier sponsor, Polycom. Other key 2012 highlights included the Akoma Ntoso Celebration and our 2nd annual Transatlantic Celebration. We were also proud to feature a series of Inspiration Day Programs where we asked successful business and civic leaders to speak with the international students, answer their questions and give them advice to help them achieve their goals. We were honored to have 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.Yamba; the Global CIO for Deloitte, Larry Quinlan and Newark Councilman Darrin Sharif participate in our program. Just as 2012 was marked by exceptional growth for Oiada, in 2013, we will make 21st century technology readily available to even more schools and organizations in underprivileged areas around the world empowering the participants to become global citizens as well as global business leaders.
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 42 states in the US.
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 region will now be able to participate in educational and cultural exchanges with students from around the world!
Ambassador Program Videoconferencing is the new way of communicating in our global society. Elementary schools, high schools, colleges and global corporations will utilize videoconferencing as a means of learning and doing business. Being a well-educated, socially informed and culturally sensitive individual is more important than ever. Our Ambassador Program offers students opportunities to broaden their educational knowledge as well as their knowledge of other cultures and regions through “LIVE” interaction with students from around the world. The program is designed to reinforce a variety of skills and competencies in the students’ core curriculum classes while helping them develop both intellectually and socially. The educational skills to be reinforced include reading and listening comprehension, technology, research and writing skills as well as oral presentation skills. Socially, students are made aware of global issues and as they discuss the issues and work on solutions, it creates a sense of empowerment. It builds their confidence that they can do something to improve the world in which they live. In 2012, the Ambassador Program experienced tremendous growth reaching more students domestically and internationally than ever before. A grant from The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program enabled us to provide programming to students throughout the East Orange, NJ school district. Additionally, our unique peer learning program with students in Ghana has caught fire with students literally across America. Internationally, we have reached out to connect and build a bridge between schools in the US, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia, Ghana and Canada. Through our integration of education, history, culture and other core curriculum subjects with technology, we are empowering students to take charge of their educational experience while providing leadership and character development. We empower students to take charge of their educational experience and assist them in their preparation for college, the global corporate work force and for life. We empower students to truly become “Global Citizens”! In 2013, we are looking to expand our program to all 50 US states and to all countries 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 Jumah, a member of Parliament and founder of the Africa Newark Organization. The celebration 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 sponsored 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 â€œLIVEâ€? 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 African-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 Inspiration Day chats in which our international students could hear from and interact with some of todayâ€™s business leaders. Hearing from corporate leaders around the world helps students to prepare 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 writing to recommend the services of O’ia-da International and Eric Jones. Eric has been working with our school for the past two years providing the most informative and interactive videoconferences our school has ever had the privilege of experiencing. This year our students are part of O’ia-da International’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 Association for Diversity in Action and truly their learning has been enhanced by leaps and bounds, going beyond the limits of our school building and connecting with students half way around the world. It has been tremendously exciting 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 innovative 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 better when students learn about another culture from the people in the culture themselves. Last year, at a videoconference 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 atrocities that were committed in Ghana during this period in time—especially to the people in Ghana. Examples such as this abound from our experiences with O’ia-da International’s videoconference programs. The Ambassador Program in particular has proven to be particularly 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 Atlantic Ocean and then discussed 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 citizenship in action. Thanks to Eric Jones and O’ia-da International our students have been able to interact culture-to-culture and discover for themselves 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 offerings here at Boston College High School. I feel confident in recommending Eric Jones and O’ia-da International’s programs. As its representative, Eric is not only thorough, but also easy to work with, always willing to take the time to discuss and respond to questions 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 International 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 importantly 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 other. 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" experience 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) notified 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 created 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 understanding 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 growing 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 other’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 really 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 yourself 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 friendships–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 justice to the classroom students in Ghana. They were so professional and articulate! Great presentation, songs, and questions. Please relay our appreciation 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 flattened 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 students gained into the lives and culture of these wonderful children. Our preconceptions (we Americans often 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 communication with Mate Masie to see how we might continue our connections. Please keep us in mind with any ideas or projects you have, for I am committed to seeing that our little 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 Liggett 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 today. 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 students. 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 wonderful 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 looked. 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 opportunity 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 unmatched 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
Published on Feb 4, 2013