DIAMOND BAR, CA—Chaparral Middle School 8th grader Izzy Reedy and a dozen classmates learned about culture, education, weather, and even sports in Tanzania this year.
But, it wasn’t by opening a textbook or conducting research on a computer.
The Diamond Bar students gained knowledge through a global connection with the Gyekrum Arusha Secondary School, located over 8,500 miles away in East Africa.
Education specialist Kimberly Ramos formed the partnership with teacher Zaituni Njovu and her students through the World Education Connection program.
The students and teachers got to know each other by communicating back and forth using email and Google Hangout.
“They would ask lots of questions and post photos,” Ramos said about the 21st century-learning technology.
“Anything I received from the teacher, I would post on Google Classroom to share with my kids.”
Ramos said her students embraced the program and were amazed with how many similarities they had with their new friends.
“The kids loved seeing each other. And the things we learned this year have had more meaning because we were able to connect with the other half of the ‘Kilimanjaro Squad’ on a personal level.”
The relationship deepened when students recently held a campus clean-up project to provide supplies to the school in Karatu Urusha.
On May 10, global teams shared their thoughts of the power of connection during an inaugural World Education Day event.
Classmates Julia Brandt, Alex Ginez, and Reedy arrived before the 7:45 a.m. opening bell, eager to participate in the live global broadcast.
“Asante Sana!” the students exclaimed in Swahili while waving to one another.
“We got to experience the way they live and learn,” Brant said. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing about this experience!”
“I hope we can stay connected with the kids in Tanzania.”
“The best thing has been the sharing,” Ginez offered.
“We talked about our siblings, our pets, and hobbies. We have a lot in common.”
Students said they also gained appreciation for their own lives after seeing the East African partner school squeeze 80 students inside a class with dirt floors and dilapidated furniture.
“It showed me to be grateful for what I have, and to respect elders and family,” Reedy said.