Welcoming letter Sisterschools
I hereby welcome you to the digital educational exchange programme between [NAME SCHOOL1] and [NAME SCHOOL 2]. This is a pilot project and the success of it largely depends on you. Before describing what we expect of you, I ﬁrst would like to introduce myself. I am a documentary ﬁlmmaker and you can see a short ﬁlm about the strength of storytelling and MoMo Productions (the name of my company) here: https://vimeo.com/317207251.
When I worked as a trainer of the teachers of St. Elizabeth Girls school in Nairobi in November/December 2017, I explained how education is developing and how all of us could make it more interesting.
I spoke about ‘learning by doing’, learning by solving real-life problems’ and about ‘21st-century skills’. In short, I believe that you can be motivated to study hard and to create a new way of learning if we give you the right environment and possibilities to do so. The digital age is making it possible that we are all connected and that we can share our experiences, opinions and thoughts. Problems that we may encounter in our daily lives can be addressed and solved, when we use our abilities to think creatively, communicating effectively, thinking critically and learning from our mistakes. In order to do so, the schools who take part in this exchange programme will give you all the support you need, to play a meaningful role yourselves. In the upcoming months, you will get to know each other, ﬁrst by getting to know the culture, the school environment, and the individual circumstances. Later by working together on projects which have in common that they are initiated by yourselves. The idea is that working in small groups you can decide what you are going to learn in order to solve real-life problems. For example, if in the Netherlands you feel that the working pressure is too high and that the connection of what you learn in school is not what you would like to learn, then we ask you to make this problem clear to the children in Kenya. By using short ﬁlms, photo’s, written text and audio bites, you will be able to share your life experiences. The children in Kenya will be asked to think about a solution and come up with possible changes, looking to your problems from another cultural background. Vice versa, if the children in Kenya experience problems in their daily lives, they can share that with the children in the Netherlands and they can come up with possible ideas for solving the Kenyan problems. We decided to make this a 3-year commitment because we believe that in order to create sustainable change, we need a longterm relationship in which we can build a deep trust in each other and a thorough understanding of the circumstances in which we live. Reading the newspaper, or getting our news from Facebook messages will not give us the right image of life in the different countries we are living in.
What you will be doing in the first semester is:
- Exchanging information, stories, and images about your country, school and the environment you are living in.
- Learning how to use digital means to exchange pictures, short ﬁlms and other materials (for this we need to have a G-mail address)
- Learning how to create strong stories, which can have an impact on the receiver and can change the world!
You will exchange many different ‘stories’ in different formats in order to give each other a good view of your lives and living environment. These stories will be used to have discussions, to write a good argument on a speciﬁc subject and to initiate interviews for stories. You will be asked to involve people from the neighborhood in this exchange project.
In the second semester this year, we will choose one subject, on which both classes (in Kenya and in the Netherlands) will be working. So the Dutch children will try and ﬁnd a solution for a speciﬁc case in Kenya and vice versa will the Kenyan children work on a possible solution for a Dutch problem. You can ask your teachers for advice, but also use online learning possibilities to ﬁnd the information you need in order to solve the problem, you have chosen to work on.
In June, just before the summer holidays in the Netherlands, you will be asked to actually show the results of the hard work and to end this ﬁrst year of exchange with an event, exhibition or party. Why would you work hard on making this project a success?
I have a dream that if we connect many schools in the way that you now are connected, we all will gain from this exchange. Getting new perspectives on life in general and speciﬁcally on your own role in life, will better equip you to make wise decisions in the future. Having knowledge is one thing, but having a real-life experience where you have made the effort to share knowledge and information with children of your same age from another continent, will give you much more than knowledge.
You will learn how to use your creativity and imagination, how to work together, to solve problems and to think critically about existing problems. You will gain conﬁdence in the strength you have to play a meaningful role in the quickly changing global society. Nobody can foresee the effects of the progress being made in science on our daily lives. The use of big data, artiﬁcial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain technology will have a great impact on our societies and the development of our (working) environment. This means that what we teach to all of you, should be meaningful in such a way that when you get out of school, you are well equipped to play a meaningful role in your society and to live happy lives. Prominent thinkers in the world of education, economics, and science believe that the best we can do is to develop what makes us human. What does that mean? Let’s ﬁnd out together!
I wish you all the best and will support you in making this project an unforgettable part of your school lives.
Best regards, Julia Strijland