Wednesday, August 07, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
Playground inaugurated its fifth project, Pa Nho Primary School near Khe Sanh in Central Vietnam on August 7.
Several Global Playground Board members and volunteers were onsite to celebrate
the inauguration. Global Playground worked with the Global Community Service
Foundation to construct the school.
“It is exhilarating to know that here, in a
place still littered with Agent Orange and landmines, we have given some of the
poorest children in Vietnam an opportunity to learn, and connected them with
their peers across the globe,” said Doug Bunch, Chairman of Global Playground.
Global Playground’s new
primary school in Khe Sanh will serve over 125 students in the town and
surrounding villages when classes begin in September. The building hosts four
classrooms, a toilet, and 72 desks and chairs.
students, families and teachers very much appreciate Global Playground’s
funding of the new primary school building. The teachers are committed to
further the education of these children, and live up to the promise of the new
school,” the school principal said.
Although Vietnam as a whole boasts literacy
rates above 90%, the ethnic minorities in more isolated mountain areas suffer
from widespread illiteracy.
The lack of access to schools and quality
education tempt many parents to keep their children at home to help provide
income. These circumstances exacerbate the achievement gap and poverty rates,
with many families living on just $15 a month.
Despite these challenges, the community’s
commitment to education is undeterred. Although Global Playground and its
generous supporters provided over $45,000 to build the school, the local
community contributed land and materials to the project.
“The local community’s commitment to the school
underscores the value they place on education and the hope they have for the
future of their children,” said Edward Branagan, Global Playground’s Executive
Khe Sanh is still recovering from the
devastation and destruction that occurred there during the Vietnam War. The town was the site of an American
base and a major, well-known battle. Unexploded landmines continue to put many
villagers and children at risk. Annual floods in the town have also contributed
to the destruction of homes and the closure of a prior school building. Global
Playground recognized and responded to these challenges by building the primary
school on higher ground that had been cleared of landmines.
hopes that the new primary school will provide educational opportunities that
will reverse the local cycle of poverty, provide safe places to learn and play,
and add to Global Playground’s worldwide network of schools where onsite
Teaching Fellows will continue to facilitate global cross-cultural dialogue.
This article was written by Pat Austria, Director of Communications.
Friday, July 19, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
The newly elected Global Playground Board of Directors met
on July 13. Joseph Jay, Ryann Tanap, Jason Maga, and Emmy Levens, join
returning Chairman Doug Bunch and Vice Chairman and Executive Director Edward
Branagan to serve on the Board for the upcoming year.
Board, elected in June, brings together a variety of backgrounds inside and
outside of Global Playground. Joseph Jay attended the College of William and
Mary as an undergraduate and a law student. He currently works as a lawyer for
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in Washington D.C.
knew about GP from the time it was founded and have followed it through its
first seven years,” Jay said. “I want to continue supporting the founders’
vision for education in remote areas around the world.”
Maga works for Amtrak handling contract negotiations and operational
improvement issues with the companies who own the tracks. Maga has supported GP
for a number of years, and met his wife at a GP fundraiser in Washington D.C.
Maga hopes his past nonprofit board experience will assist him in this role.
was previously on the board of another organization that has since grown to
over $10 million in annual revenue and provides life-changing services to over
half a million impoverished people in Africa,” Maga said. “My contribution was only a tiny part of the growth, but I hope to bring to
GP a bit of what I learned there and use that to help GP develop and implement
its own growth plan.”
resonates with Global Playground’s ability to tie two distinctive goals into
Playground offers a unique opportunity to, at the same time, support basic
education and a broader cultural awareness by focusing on the synergy between
these two objectives,” Maga said.
Thailand Teaching Fellow Ryann Tanap will return to the United States at the
end of July and serve on the Board for the upcoming year. She brings a hands-on
volunteer perspective to the group after finishing her year of teaching.
have more of an understanding of what fellows may face on a daily basis,” Tanap
said. “I want to provide support for incoming teaching fellows, as they are the
only full-time volunteers of Global Playground.”
believes her new role on the Board connects with her every day goal to teach
her students English through a cross-cultural lens.
the end of the day, it’s really all about the kids,” Tanap said. “I believe
that GP’s work, especially with the fellows, allows for a unique learning
experience. GP has been able to promote cross-cultural dialogue, and I really
want to help facilitate these interactions.”
Friday, May 17, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
Maddy Smith, a 2013 graduate of the College of William &
Mary, will serve as Global Playground’s Thailand Teaching Fellow beginning in
“I feel like now is the time in my life
to give back as much as I can. I saw it as a great opportunity to give back to
the organization that I have followed for so many years in a tangible way,”
first learned about the organization as a freshman in her Leadership and
Community Engagement class.
[Bunch, Chairman of Global Playground] came to lecture in my class when I was a
freshman. It was one of the first exposures that I had to meet the founder of
an organization like that, and I was just captivated by him and the
organization,” Smith said. “I have stayed in touch with him over the past few
years and attended fundraisers.”
an International Relations major, believes her experience tutoring kids during
her time as an undergrad and her past summer working as a program director for
a summer camp will assist her in this new position.
spent the past summer working with Christ church summer camps. Halfway through
the summer I was promoted to be program director for the counselor in training
program, designing and implementing curriculum,” Smith said. “In order to gain
respect from the students you have to give them respect.”
this experience, Smith developed a philosophy to her teaching style that she
hopes to use in her Thai classroom.
saw myself not so much as an authoritative figure, as much as a learning tandem
relationship,” Smith said. “When I was able to convey that to them it worked so
Smith, Global Playground’s small, supportive network stood out to her during
her job search.
the whole process, it just became really clear to me that this was the place I
wanted to be,” Smith said. “I just realized that this is a group of people that
I want to be associated with.”
believes the cross-cultural exchange element of the organization sets Global
Playground apart from other teaching abroad opportunities.
me, the big difference between the average teaching English abroad and Global
Playground is the fact that this is a cross-cultural exchange. I think that is
something that is incredibly valuable,” Smith said.
will go to Bangkok in early August to take a three-week intensive Thai
immersion course. After that, she will go to Mae La Noi to join current
Thailand Teaching Fellow Ryann Tanap in the village where she will be teaching
and living for the upcoming year.
way the program is set up, we overlap by two or three weeks, so I will be able
to observe her in the classroom so that by the time I step into the classroom I
will have a solid grasp on what I’m doing,” Smith said.
will also participate in a training weekend here in the U.S. before leaving for
Thailand with the new Honduras Teaching Fellow Alex Clark-Youngblood. Smith is
looking forward to the upcoming opportunity.
is the time in my life when I want to be putting myself out of my comfort zone
so I can learn more about my life and my abilities, but also give back to
different cultures at the same time,” Smith said.
Friday, March 08, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
When Global Playground Board Member Becca Rollo read “The
Lion and the Son-in-Law” – crafted by Teaching Fellow Ryann Tanap’s students in
Mae La Noi, Thailand, to her fifth grade class in Freehold Township, New Jersey, her
students noticed how similar it was to the American fable “The Lion and the
Rollo shared the fables crafted by Tanap’s students as a lesson in cross-cultural
dialogue lesson, discussing the Thai fables in comparison to American fables.
|Students in Rollo's fifth grade class read both fables.|
discussed the oral tradition of storytelling and how that is key to how both
folktales and fables exist in the world today. I also told them that,
fascinatingly enough, there are similar fables and folktales that occur
throughout the world,” Rollo said. “I explained that today I would be sharing
with them a Thai student’s rendition of a fable with similar characters. There
was a definite twist in the Thai version.”
Rollo was able to access Tanap’s fables
virtually and share them with her class.
kids were floored by the artwork. They also quickly wanted to jump in and
correct the grammatical mistakes. This opened the door for a very meaningful
conversation about what it is like to do something like this in another
language,” Rollo said.
students are currently learning Spanish, but they are not at the level where
they can read or write in Spanish independently.
see things from their own points of view, and it takes coaxing for them to see
something from a different point of view. If they were the ones assigned this
task, they would have been overwhelmed by the difficulty and here they were
instantly quick to criticize,” Rollo said. “The broadening of their
understanding and the development of that humility when entering into
cross-cultural dialogue like this takes time to foster and is well worth the
time it takes to develop.”
taught the fable lesson to her twelfth grade English 204: English for Speaking
and Listening course at Mae La Noi Daroonsik School. She taught her students
the different parts of a fable, explained vocabulary in the fables before
reading them aloud, read them aloud to the class and then asked comprehension
her students understood the structure of a fable and listened to the American
version, they were able to select their own fables from Thai, hill tribe or
religious origins to turn them into storybooks.
Global Playground is dedicated to cross-cultural dialogue, I knew that a fable
assignment that incorporated the student’s knowledge of storytelling would
really be something worth exploring,” Tanap said. “I loved having the students
practice reading the fables aloud as well as coming up with the content for
Rollo hopes to continue to communicate with Tanap’s students in Thailand. Thai
students are on summer break from mid-March to mid-May, but Rollo plans to send
a response to Tanap’s students in May when they are back in session.
will be working to record something to send to her in the meantime to further
this literacy connection,” Rollo said. “We will spend the coming months using
stockpiled videos on [Global Playground’s] YouTube channel to foster other
cross-cultural dialogue projects that wouldn’t occur in real-time, but would
allow us to prepare responses to send by the time students are back in school
in Thailand in mid-May.”
Monday, February 25, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
Global Playground’s former Intern Taylor Nelson received the
College of William & Mary’s 2013 James Monroe Prize for Civic Leadership.
Nelson was honored during the College’s Charter Day ceremonies on Feb. 8.
award is granted to a student “who has demonstrated sustained leadership of an
unusual quality, leadership combined with initiative, character, and an
unfailing commitment to leverage the assets of the College community to address
the needs of our society.”
will graduate from the College in May with a major in Sociology and a minor in
Community Studies. She interned with Global Playground the summer after her
was wonderful to work with Global Playground and to have the opportunity to see
such a different light on so many different things, such as cross-cultural
communication,” Nelson said. “It was great to work with a staff that is so
passionate about what they do and that is really driving change around the
worked with members of the organization during her internship to begin the
Moment of the Week initiative on the Global Playground website. Moment of the
Week highlights a picture, video or moment from the lives of the teaching fellows
at one of the five Global Playground schools. (correct me if this descrip is
with Global Playground showed me the capacity I had to produce the things that
they needed,” Nelson said. “It was incredible to see how my work paid off and
was benefiting the organization itself.”
has had an extensive career in service during her four years at the College.
She currently serves on the Branch Out campus executive board, working to plan
alternative break trips and train trip leaders. She entered as a Sharpe
community scholar, studying social justice issues in her freshman seminar. She
worked for the Lackey Free Clinic in Yorktown, Virginia, and she created her
own community-based research project on the effects of cooking-based nutritional
education on reducing childhood obesity.
spending a summer working with Global Playground, Nelson traveled to Ireland to
continue her international social engagement experience working with Ashoka.
There, she worked to coordinate the Change Nation summit during the summer
after her junior year. These experiences have contributed to Nelson’s continued
service to her community in Williamsburg and abroad.
the award was such a humbling experience,” Nelson said. “I don’t think I could
have gotten to that point without organizations like Global Playground
supporting me and giving me the opportunity to do the things that I have done.”
Sunday, February 17, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
Applications to work as a Teaching Fellow at Global
Playground projects in Thailand, Cambodia and Uganda are now available. Global
Playground currently sponsors four annual Teaching Fellowships, in Honduras,
Thailand, Cambodia and Uganda.
Fellows serve as ambassadors to the host country and to the local partnering
organization at the project site in the country. Fellows spend one year at the
project sites, teaching English and working in Global Playground’s schools, library and technology center. Teaching Fellows create and implement a
curriculum promoting cross-cultural understanding. They also work to connect
their project site with other Global Playground sites and schools in the United States to foster cross-cultural dialogue.
Thailand Teaching Fellow works in Mae La Noi, Mae Hong Son Province teaching
secondary school grades 6 through 12. The Cambodia Teaching Fellow will work in
Koh Kel, Kandal Province teaching secondary school grades 7 through 9. The Uganda Teaching Fellow will work in Buwasa teaching primary school grades 1 through 7.
Alex Youngblood, a teacher in
Arizona, will begin his Teaching Fellowship in Honduras in May. Ryann Tanap is
currently working in Thailand and will complete her fellowship in July. She is
the third Teaching Fellow to be placed in Thailand. Candidates selected for
Cambodia and Uganda will be the first Teaching Fellows in those positions.
“Global Playground’s Thailand Teaching
Fellowship has allowed me to put what I’ve learned academically and in past
service experience into action. I love working with the Mae La Noi Daroonsik
community. They invited me into their community by sharing their cultures and
traditions,” Tanap said. “Although I cannot change the circumstances that my
students face, I can inspire them to also be agents of change in their lives by
teaching, and also learning, with them.”
To apply to work as a Teaching
Fellow, click here.
Saturday, January 26, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
Global Playground Chairman Doug Bunch and Executive Director
Edward Branagan traveled to Uganda on January 2 to visit Global Playground’s
first project, a primary school in Wakiso District.
Playground funded the construction of the school in partnership with Building
Tomorrow who oversaw the project. Both Mr. Branagan and Mr. Bunch spent time with the students, teachers, and their families while
visiting the school.
have worked so hard to get to this point, and it marks an important moment for Global Playground that we can actually see all of our
efforts materialize,” Bunch said.
hard as it is for us to make time to do everything that we do, the benefit that
we giveto these communities is larger than we can ever imagine. These kids
would not be inschool if Global
Playground had not acted.” Branagan also added,
“With about five years of hindsight, one can see and even feel that the modest
funds donated for this schoolbuilding project have changed lives both in tangible and intangible ways that may not be reflected in a single success
metric such as student enrollment numbers.”
Global Playground’s school was built, many students did not attend school
because it was too far for them to travel to do so. The new school serves more
than six villages. Classes range from 25 to 30 students each with a total
enrollment of about 190 students and nine teachers.
Playground can help build four walls for education, but at the end of the day,
the learning that occurs within the walls is the result of the teachers,
students, parents and local NGO Building Tomorrow,” Branagan said. “It is
really inspiring to see how much education is valued by all stakeholders
involved, a true testament to the grassroots community engagement model that is
being employed by our partners on the ground.”
government provides teachers and sets the curriculum, but Global Playground
hopes to place a Teaching Fellow at the school in the future.
is always room for improvement, but, overall, I think there will be ample
opportunity for a new Fellow to work alongside a very able and committed
community,” Branagan said.
addition, Global Playground received a grant from the Charitable Foundation of
the Energy Bar Association (CFEBA) to install solar panels in the school. Bunch
and Branagan saw the grant put into good use at the school during their visit.
solar panels are working and in use. The power is a huge benefit to the
school,” Bunch said.
panels not only provide power to the building, but they have also become a
small source of income to further support the school itself.
solar panels are also being used to charge cell phones of community members.
The modest funds generated from this are reinvested in the school,” Branagan
a power source and a working school in place, Bunch and Branagan hope that Internet and computers can one day come to the school
Monday, December 03, 2012 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
College of William & Mary Professor George Greenia
hosted a fundraiser for Global Playground on Nov. 17. A variety of members of
the William & Mary community including professors, administrators, law
students and undergraduates were in attendance.
event was clearly a success – not just in financial terms. It’s always great to
see such a cross-section of the College community come together to support
Global Playground,” Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors Doug
Bunch said. “William and Mary engenders an obligation to give back to others
who are less fortunate. Everyone’s presence there on Thursday confirmed that
sense of obligation, and it was inspiring and refreshing to see.”
Playground has maintained close ties with the College of William & Mary
since its inception. Both founders Bunch and Edward Branagan are alumni of the
College, and the community has demonstrated overwhelming support during the
organization’s growth. This event only reaffirmed the expanding supportive
community of Global Playground in Williamsburg.
year’s house party was excellent… reaffirming the solidarity of a widening
circle of local supporters. That sort of faithful cultivation of donors and
believers is the lifeblood of any organization that hopes to outlast its
founders,” Greenia said.
addition to events like this one, organizations including Greek and service
fraternities as well as the on-campus Office of Community Engagement have
previously contributed to Global Playground through various fundraisers or
activities. According to Greenia, this continued connection between the College
and Global Playground has grown into more than just a connection with the alma
mater of the founders.
Tribe achieves a global reach through Global Playground and the more we expose
the campus community to its successes, the more we can take pride in our shared
stewardship. From President Reveley, through the faculty and staff and deep
into the student body, this project merges us with the community of all
humankind,” Greenia said.
Maddy Smith attended November’s fundraiser as a gesture of her continued
support for the organization. She first learned about Global Playground during
her freshman seminar course entitled “Paths in Civic Engagement” when Bunch
came to speak to her class about Global Playground.
was immediately captivated by the idea of cross-cultural understanding in
schools around the world. His talk struck a chord with me because he was so
passionate about his work that I wanted to be a part of the organization and
its progress,” Smith said. “I commend the organization for taking on such an
For Smith, the presence of
undergraduates at the fundraiser is a part of the reason she supports Global
Playground and its methods so wholeheartedly.
think that Global Playground has done a beautiful job of reaching out to
undergraduates at William & Mary to encourage their support and brainstorm
ways for students to become a part of the organization,” Smith said. “I admire
the fact that Global Playground values the opinions of the students and takes
into consideration their thoughts, comments and concerns and incorporates those
ideas into the way they work.”
and Williamsburg community members gathered together for a cocktail party
hosted by Greenia in honor of Global Playground’s continued efforts to foster
cross-cultural learning and understanding through educational infrastructure
and resources. In total, the fundraiser nearly $1,000 for the
not just cocktails and food: it’s a common table and a common cause, a
commitment to each other – and more importantly to the children of the world
that Global Playground serves,” Greenia said.
Monday, October 08, 2012 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
When Alex Clark-Youngblood wakes up in the morning to get
ready for work, he knows what to expect. He goes through the motions, hops in
his car, and drives off to meet his fifth grade class of emotionally disabled
students for another full day of teaching in Phoenix, Arizona.
a phone call a few weeks ago, the stability of his Phoenix lifestyle will only
remain a reality for a few more months. Youngblood has been selected as the new
Global Playground Honduras Teaching Fellow, and he will be joining the team in
Honduras in May.
had already committed to come back and teach in Phoenix for a third year, but,
to be honest, I was considering packing up my things and going straight down to
Honduras,” Youngblood said. “Fortunately we worked out an arrangement where I
don’t have to abandon ship here.”
will spend the next few months connecting his fifth-grade Phoenix classroom
with Thailand Teaching Fellow Ryann Tanap’s classroom to engage both in a
cross-cultural dialogue. He will also make a few preliminary visits before
moving to Honduras in May to complete the teaching fellowship.
think there i so much room for growth in Honduras and in El Progreso
specifically – on top of that the
opportunity to pick up where Adam left off with Students Helping Honduras and
to work with an organization like OYE that I am familiar with and that has
already been successful,” Youngblood said. “It’s a dream come true.”
worked with the Organization for Youth Empowerment, or OYE, in El Progreso
during the summer of 2011. He helped fundraise for their annual summer soccer
tournament during the year, and then worked in Honduras during the summer to
hold the event.
Playground’s prior Teaching Fellow, Adam Levin, while working in Honduras, had
begun to work with OYE as well. When Youngblood found out about the program, he
just seems like the perfect opportunity, and I couldn’t be happier that we
found a way to make it work.”
currently works with a group of emotionally disabled students on a day-to-day
basis currently. His students come from various backgrounds and they all have
different disabilities, but Youngblood finds himself reinvigorated by his work
can be hard working with students that have severe education issues to maintain
the motivation and patience, but I really do feel like I wake up every morning
feeling ready to continue the fight that we are fighting here.”
plans to bring this same energy with him to Honduras.
day is a struggle so you just have to take pride and satisfaction in the small
victories, because the good days can be few and far between sometimes.”
Sunday, September 09, 2012 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |
In one short year, construction of the school in the Pa Nho
village in Vietnam has been completed. The project, funded by both Global
Playground in partnership with the Global Community Service Organization, will
serve 150-200 students from ages 5 to 14 years old.
school building project in Khe Sanh offers Global Playground a unique
opportunity to connect ethnic minority groups living in Vietnam with other
children in the world through education,” Global Playground Executive Director
Edward Branagan said.
percent of the students who will attend the school come from families that are
members of ethnic hill tribes. Out of those students, 90 percent are living
below the official Vietnam poverty line of $15 dollars a month.
new school brings the possibility of a stable and uninterrupted school year for
the students by providing an infrastructure that won’t close when the heavy
rain season comes. The previous facility was built on a flood plain creating an
unstable academic year for the community.
rains rendered the school unstable for up to 2 months at a time, thus
effectively shutting down the facility and forcing students to stay at home,”
GCSO Southeast Asia Regional Director Max Talcott said.
opportunity to attend primary school now will allow students to pursue higher
education later. The facility can also serve as a storm shelter when needed for
these kids really want is a place to play, a place to interact, a place to go
to school,” Global Playground Chairman Doug Bunch said. “The opportunity to
give these kids the infrastructure to do that and to put them in touch with the
rest of the world is one we take very seriously.”
Pa Nho village is located just outside of the Khe Sanh town, a former large
Marine Corps base that was the location of many fierce battles during the
Vietnam War. The area is still not completely free of land mines and bears
emotional scars from the war.
a U.S.-financed school in that area is a symbolic measure of how the positive
relations between Vietnam and the United States have come since the war,”
local government has been involved throughout the planning and construction of
the project, and they have agreed to take over operational expenses now that
construction is complete. The school was built in cooperation with the Quang
Tri People’s Committee, the Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs, the Huong
Ha District’s Department of Education and Training, and the Huong Ha District
ceremony to dedicate the school and celebrate the completion of construction
will be held in the near future. Students have already begun attending