Join us for An Evening Under the Stars

Friday, July 22, 2016 | posted by Scott Gemmell-Davis |
Global Playground invites you to join us for a round of drinks and appetizers to celebrate our schools across the world from Central America to Southeast Asia.  We are especially thrilled to celebrate our new project site in Kenya! Ten years ago, Global Playground began in Uganda, and we are excited to return to East Africa to honor our tenth anniversary.  Join us for An Evening Under the Stars to remember ten years of creating cross cultural dialogue around the world.

An Evening Under the Stars will take place September 1, 2016 from 5-8 p.m. at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC.  The event is co-sponsored by the William & Mary Washington Center.  Come and learn more about our work across the globe, find out how you can get involved, and enjoy an evening of food and drinks from around the world!

Check out our Events Page to learn more about this event and to purchase your tickets. We look forward to seeing you there!

Also, this will be the final news update sent via email.  Coinciding with the launch of our new website, Global Playground will begin a monthly newsletter in August.  All subscribers to our current news updates email list will be automatically transferred to this new list.  In addition to the monthly newsletter, you can stay updated on everything Global Playground is doing here! 

Global Playground Launches New Website

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 | posted by Scott Gemmell-Davis |
Global Playground is excited to announce the launch of its brand new website! Be sure to explore all of our projects, events, and new features. We hope that this new website allows our followers, donors, and future partners to stay connected and updated on everything Global Playground does.

Check it out here!

Also, stay tuned for the launch of our "Virtual Playground" this August.  This feature will give teachers and their classrooms around the world the opportunity to interact using a cross-cultural curriculum and a variety of multicultural activities, initiatives, and lessons.

A special thanks to Colour Outside for helping bring the new site to fruition.

Global Playground Announces 2016-17 Teaching Fellows

Monday, June 20, 2016 | posted by Scott Gemmell-Davis |
Global Playground is excited to announce the selection of our 2016-17 Teaching Fellows, Willa Sweeney and Yohance Whitaker. Next year Willa and Yohance will teach English at Global Playground’s project sites in Thailand and Vietnam, respectively.

Willa, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, is thrilled to bring her talents to the Mae La Noi Daroonsik School in the Mae Hong Son province of Thailand. After studying abroad and conducting research on Hmong women, gender-based violence, and poverty in Sah Pa, Vietnam, Willa developed the belief that there is a distinct difference between being a tourist and being someone who is fully enveloped and invested in a culture. “In Vietnam, I could speak some of the language, I knew where the best places were to grab food, and I made local Vietnamese friends,” said Willa. “I’m excited to return to Thailand as a teacher and volunteer rather than as a tourist.”

Yohance, a recent graduate of the College of William & Mary, will be teaching at Khe Sanh Primary School in Quang Tri province, Vietnam. Yohance sees his fellowship as an opportunity to further Global Playground’s mission of cross-cultural education. He believes “we get closer to a community of love the earlier a child learns to recognize the humanity and perspective of another human being.” He plans to help his students develop the skills to build that community through cross-cultural curriculum.

Willa and Yohance will move to Southeast Asia on August 1st and meet the current Global Playground Teaching Fellows, Amanda Cordray, Scott Gemmell-Davis, and Kendall Lorenzen, for training.

Global Playground Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

Thursday, May 12, 2016 | posted by Kendall Lorenzen |
On May 12, 2006, Global Playground was born, with the dream of providing educational opportunities and encouraging cross-cultural understanding among children across the globe. Global Playground sought to be an organization that would give children in developing countries access to education and a forum to share their perspectives and learn from other children similar to themselves, an ocean or border away.  Global Playground sought to develop the tools for children to pave better futures for themselves and their communities, learn about themselves, and learn about the world around them.

Ten years later, Global Playground now has projects in seven different countries and an eighth in development, spanning Southeast Asia, Central America, and East Africa.  Global Playground has coordinated art exchanges, pen pal programs, environmental campaigns, and other activities that encourage students to engage with the rest of the world.  Currently, an estimated 2,500 students from Honduras to Myanmar are actively participating in Global Playground programs, and thousands of other children have benefited from Global Playground’s work to date.   There is a lot to celebrate, and there are a lot of people with whom to celebrate.

This month, at each of Global Playground’s project sites in Uganda, Cambodia, Thailand, Honduras, Vietnam, Myanmar, and the Philippines, the students, teachers, and community members who make up our Global Playground family threw birthday parties to celebrate the 10th ‘birthday’ of Global Playground.

Sir Joebel, of Mangoso, Sigma, Capiz, Philippines, remarked during the Mangoso celebration, “Happy Birthday to Global Playground.  Thank you for touching the lives of people around the world.  We here at Mangoso Elementary School are very thankful...  We are very thankful for the three classrooms that we have now.”

Students at Paw Myar School (Paw Myar Village, Myanmar) enjoy cake!

Kendall Lorenzen, Global Playground’s Global Fellow, reflected, “We have all been privileged to work with such incredible children and communities.  As the Global Fellow, I am lucky to see the impact that Global Playground and its partners have had every single day.  Education is the greatest tool, the greatest foundation one can have.  Thousands of students around the world now can dream, learn, play, and grow into the people they want to be.  Through our cross-cultural curriculum they develop an appreciation for their homes and places they once didn’t know existed on a map.  This is something special.”

Do you want to join in the celebrations?  Share your birthday wishes for Global Playground on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #GPBirthday.       

Every Day is Earth Day

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 | posted by Scott Gemmell-Davis |
April saw an assortment of activities, lesson, and projects, all focused on saving the planet, throughout the Global Playground community.  After a month of bombarding students with environmental jargon, challenging photos, and alarming statistics, we have reached a concluding consensus:  environmental education cannot be constrained to one month.  In honor of this insight, several of Global Playground’s schools are galvanizing their students to take initiative and spearhead a few sustainable projects.  

Take Vietnam for example.  This summer, students plan to transform the backyard of one of their private learning centers into a public garden, to be reaped and sowed by each student that comes through the center, from ages 7 to 17.  These same students hope to partner with the Asia Foundation and Barefoot Books, with the goal of constructing a local English library that, for every book accumulated, would sponsor the planting of a tree somewhere around the world.  Finally, students celebrated Earth week in a colorful and crafty manner.  First, dipping their hands in blue and green paint and leaving their mark on a cloth banner, they pledged to live environmentally conscious lives.  The banner now hangs victoriously before the aforementioned learning center.  Second, they healed the earth (pictured below).  Each student, on a Band-Aid, listed one sustainable lifestyle choice they could make, before proudly mounting their commitments upon a sickly Earth.  

Thailand has an equally impressive resume of initiatives.  At Mae La Noi Daroonsik, students feed and take care of frogs, pigs, and fish as part of their daily duties.  They also learn to raise chickens.  These animals are either sold locally, with proceeds going directly to the boarding school that hosts ethnic minority students, or become an organic option at the canteen.  This process teaches students how to ethically and responsibly raise animals, and students are able to see tangible results from their hard work.  There’s also a community vegetable garden (pictured below), maintained exclusively by students, that adds to the dining hall menu.  Finally, students can purchase water in recycled and reused bottles, and are expected to return all empty bottles to the store before making their next purchase.  

One of Global Playground’s students in Vietnam, a 14-year old named My, mistakenly referred to Earth Day as “The World’s Day” during one of her class presentations.  We think she might be on to something.  Wouldn’t it be cool if kids across the world could use the global crisis that is Climate Change to grow together; to unify around a singular evil.  Instead of letting the woes of the environment exacerbate partisan rifts, Global Playground is pushing its students and teachers to use Climate Change as a medium for productive cross-cultural dialogue; not just on Earth Day, but every day.  

Global Playground Announces Construction of Library at a Girls' School in Kenya

Tuesday, April 05, 2016 | posted by Cathy Ji |
With its tenth anniversary quickly approaching, Global Playground is proud to announce its eighth project—a library and media center for Siana Girls' Secondary Boarding School in Kenya.

Siana Girls' Secondary Boarding School is currently under construction in the Siana ward of Narok County, Kenya, near the town of Megwarra.  An estimated 480 girls are expected to attend Siana Girls' Secondary School each year, 40% of whom are expected to require aid.  Most of the girls who will enroll come from Maasai families who are deeply rooted in the pastoral tradition.  Until the early 2000s, a majority of Maasai children were not enrolled in primary, let alone secondary educational institutions.  In the past ten years the Kenyan government and the Maasai people have made great strides in increasing enrollment figures in the region, but both have faced challenges in finding the resources to make education accessible in rural parts of Kenya, like the Siana ward.  Global Playground will help overcome these challenges.

Classroom at Siana Primary Boarding School.
Global Playground will work with MAO Kenya, its partner in the region, to construct the library and media center.  Camilla Buchanan, member of the Board of Directors of MAO Kenya, shares, “Having a secondary school for young Maasai women living in the Siana sub-location has long been a dream that MAO Kenya has shared with the parents and teachers of the Siana Boarding Primary School in Megwarra. Now the quality of education available to these young scholars will be measurably advanced by the addition of the planned library/media center.”

After the project was approved during last week's Board of Directors meeting, Board Chair Doug Bunch noted, “Global Playground is thrilled to return to East Africa – the site of its first project – as we celebrate ten years as an organization. We welcome the students of Siana Girls' Secondary School to the Global Playground family.”

Learn more on the Global Playground Kenya project page.

Global Playground Checks In On Its Schools Across Southeast Asia

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 | posted by Cathy Ji |
Global Playground board members Doug Bunch and Jason Maga; teaching fellows Amanda Cordray, Scott Gemmell-Davis, and Kendall Lorenzen; and volunteer Cathy Ji brought in the new year with visits to many of GP’s affiliated schools throughout Southeast Asia. In just two and a half short weeks, the group visited the newly finished school in Paw Myar, Myanmar; Mae La Noi Daroonsik in Thailand; Khe Sanh Primary School and Pa Nho School in Khe Sanh, Vietnam; and Mangoso Elementary School in Sigma, Capiz, Philippines. “The whole trip was a complete whirlwind and definitely tiring, but it was such an incredible experience to see firsthand the impact that Global Playground has made in so many communities” says Teaching Fellow Amanda after reflecting on the trip.

Global Playground members and Paw Myar villagers celebrating the inauguration of its newest school in Myanmar
Global Playground members and Paw Myar villagers celebrating its newest school in Myanmar
The visit to Paw Myar, Myanmar left the group feeling motivated after being welcomed by a small, but enthusiastic community who expressed their deep appreciation for assistance in constructing the community’s first school. Every member of the community came out to greet GP’s members and volunteers, who all later took part in a town hall style meeting to identify the school’s needs.
The group spent a full day in the classroom while visiting Mae La Noi Daroonsik in Thailand. The students were eager to show off their English skills in a variety of classroom games and hands-on activities.

In Vietnam, Teaching Fellow Scott and Global Fellow Kendall were given thorough tours of their new schools in the town of Khe Sanh. Students at Khe Sanh Primary School were so excited about their arrival that within minutes of stepping onto the school’s campus, both Scott and Kendall were being asked for their autographs.  

The group had the special opportunity to tour the new school building that has just started construction at Mangoso Elementary School in the Philippines after the community was badly affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. On this school visit, volunteers and board members also spent one-on-one time with the students “dreaming” about what they wanted to be when they grew up and designing part of the new school building.

Be sure to check out the Flickr and Facebook page for more highlights from each school visit!

Thailand Fellow and Global Fellow Depart US

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 | posted by Alison Cohen |
Yesterday, Global Playgrounds Thailand Fellow, Amanda Cordray, and Global Fellow, Kendall Lorenzen, departed for Thailand! They will both begin their journeys at the Mae La Noi Daroonsik School in the Mae Hong Son Province of Thailand. Amanda will spend the year teaching at this site. Kendall will continue her journey to Global Playgrounds other projects in Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, the Philippines, Honduras and Uganda.

I am so incredibly pumped! I’ve spent the past few months preparing for this day and now I can’t wait to get on the ground and meet everyone in Mae La Noi, said Amanda. She continued, While I can’t help being a little anxious about traveling to a new place, I’m excited to continue Global Playground’s efforts at the Daroonsik School and I can’t wait to find new ways to connect students around the world.

Vietnam Fellow Scott Gemmell-Davis will begin teaching at Global Playgrounds new school in the Huong Hoa district of the Quang Tri province in January. Scott remarked, I am excited to spend a year serving with everything I have, under the assurance that in facilitating cross cultural dialogues, I truly am making a positive impact, however small that might be.  As the first Vietnam fellow, I am also looking forward to learning on the fly, facing unprecedented obstacles, and laying groundwork for future fellows.

Cordray (left) and Lorenzen on their flight to Thailand

Global Playground Announces a New Teaching Fellow for Vietnam

Thursday, August 06, 2015 | posted by Alison Cohen |
Global Playground is thrilled to announce the selection of a new teaching fellow for Vietnam!

Global Playground's newest teaching fellow: Scott Gemmell-Davis
Scott Gemmell-Davis will serve as a fellow at the Pa Nho school in the Huong Hoa district, Quang Tri province of Vietnam in January 2016. Scott is a rising senior at the College of William & Mary, and he is planning to take a gap year in order to take on this fellowship. Scott will serve as Global Playground’s first fellow in Vietnam.

Global Playground worked with the Global Community Service Foundation to build the Pa Nho school. Construction on the school was completed in September 2012.

Read more about the Global Playground’s project in Vietnam here.

Good luck Scott!

Global Playground Announces Opening of School in Myanmar

Monday, June 15, 2015 | posted by Alison Cohen |
Global Playground is thrilled to announce the opening of our newest school! It is located in the village of Paw Myar in Nyaungshwe Township, Taunggyi District, Shan State, Myanmar. Twenty-six children will attend the school today, and in the future the school will accommodate forty students.

"Global Playground is thrilled for the children of Paw Myar," said Doug Bunch, Global Playground's Chairman. "Today they attended classes in the first permanent school ever to be built in the village. Mere months ago, they were going to school in a bamboo hut. We're proud to have been part of making their dream a reality." Global Playground partnered with the Global Community Service Foundation to build this project.

Public funding for education in Myanmar has decreased since its independence. A 2001 UNESCO study found that Myanmar spent just 1.3% of its GDP on education, ranking 164th out of 168 countries in the study. While Myanmar mandates five years of compulsory primary school for children ages 5-9, the country's enrollment rate at the primary level is around 85%. Only 75% of students who begin grade 1 will complete the last level of primary school, grade 5.

We’d like to think all of our supporters in this incredible endeavor. Stay updated on the progress of the school by signing up for our mailing list, liking us on Facebook, or following us on Twitter.