iEARN Educators Conference and Youth Summit in Virginia
By Theode Niyirinda
Gayaza High School(G.H.S) teachers and students represented Uganda at an International Educators and Resource Network (iEARN) Educators conference and Youth Summit from 7th to 14th July, 2018 in Winchester city, Virginia State, USA. Theode Niyirinda, Julie Tracy Lubega, Sylvia Kwarikunda Mwebaze, Rhoda Ssentongo and 13 students represented the school at this conference and Youth summit. iEARN (http://www.iearn.org) is an organization whose aim is to connect students and their teachers online in global projects that are aimed at promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) also known as Global Goals. The students and teachers collaborate and engage virtually throughout the year with their partners in different iEARN projects. The conference and Youth summit offers them a chance to meet and share in person on their virtual interactions.
This year’s Educators conference and Youth summit coincided with iEARN’s 30th anniversary of connecting the world through global collaboration. The theme for the 2018 conference was Global Collaboration for Sustainable Development
PHOTO: GHS team at the iEARN Educators conference and Youth Summit
GHS students and teachers shared their experience with the global audience on the different projects run in School. Key among them was the agricultural activities at the school farm and how different classes belong to different units i.e S.1 in Vegetables, S.2 in dairy, S.3 and S.5 in Matooke growing. As the students go through this chain, a number of skills are gained and these skills are transferred to the community when the students are back hence working as extension workers. This program helps in alleviating poverty and hunger in the community hence working towards SDG #1(No poverty) and #2(Zero Hunger).
The students also shared their journey in tutoring Maths to the needy pupils in a nearby school; Kadongo Primary School which has given them an opportunity to meet first hand the community challenges. As a school, we are training girls to be future community leaders and thus giving them an opportunity to have a feel of what the community is going through. This builds their resilience and readies them to work towards solving the community problems. Along side the Maths tutoring the girls started in Kadongo primary school, the Girl rising project which aimed at changing the way the society views girls and encouraging girls to stay in school. It was done as a community outreach project for an iEARN project of Girl rising (http://www.girlrising.com ).
PHOTO: GHS girls at Kadongo Primary School Inspiring girls to stay in School
The Educators conference and Youth Summit is a small world and people from diverse backgrounds meet to share. This creates a strong cross cultural diversity and people are able to appreciate each others differences. This is a good ground for a peaceful world as we prepare our youth for global citizenship.
PHOTO: GHS students participating in a community cleaning with other Youth
The Educators and Youth also had tours and excursion in an effort to understand the history of the US in Washington D.C. The sites included the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the Martin Luther King Memorial as well as The White House. Students also explored the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History.
PHOTO: GHS Students at the Cultural sites near the Washington Monument in D.C
The teachers and students also showcased the different cultures in Uganda at the cultural night and were able to have a taste of Virginia food. The community donated all the food used for dinner.
The Educators conference and Youth summit was capped with a dinner in down town of old Winchester town.
Overall, the conference was a success and having the youth meet and share with a wider community opened their world to what is possible. They were able to learn with the world and not about the world. It begins with you
An overview of the GHS team at the conference can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEw8R1TFpcI&t=14s
Credit to Ms. Deborah Zawedde for editing