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.

Global Playground Announces New Teaching Fellows

Wednesday, May 06, 2015 | posted by Katherine Ambrose |

Global Playground could not be happier to announce the selection of its two newest Teaching Fellows! Both graduate from the College of William & Mary this year, and will be invaluable assets to the Global Playground team.

Amanda Cordray, William & Mary '15 has been selected to serve as Global Playground's 2015-16 Thailand Fellow. Amanda will live and teach at a high school in Mae La Noi, Thailand, in the Northern province of Mae Hong Son, and will also volunteer at a school in nearby Huay Puung Mai, Thailand. Her responsibilities will include teaching English, building Global Playground's relationship with the school community, and connecting students at the school with children at Global Playground's other project sites around the world.

Kendall Lorenzen, William & Mary '15 has been selected to serve as Global Playground's 2015-17 Global Fellow. For two years, Kendall will travel to and live at Global Playground's project sites around the world, in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, the Philippines, Honduras, and Uganda. Kendall will connect children at Global Playground's project sites with each other and facilitate cross-cultural dialogue among them. She will also assist with Global Playground's fundraising, marketing, and recruiting efforts; assist with donor outreach; research potential new projects; further develop Global Playground's relationships with its partner organizations; further develop the Teaching Fellows program; further develop Global Playground's vision and mission; and report regularly to Global Playground's Board about her work.

Global Playground congratulates its new Fellows!

Paw Myar Village Progress

Saturday, March 14, 2015 | posted by Katherine Ambrose |

Global Playground is excited to share new photos of our school in the village of Paw Myar, Myanmar! As you can see below, the village has made significant progress on the foundations and walls of the building. Check back soon for more updates on this project, and see our website for more information on the village of Paw Myar. We can't wait to get these kids into the classroom and realizing their full potential!

Global Playground Announces New Project in the Philippines

Tuesday, March 03, 2015 | posted by Doug Bunch |

Global Playground is proud to announce that it will build three new classrooms for students at Mangoso Elementary School in Mangoso, Sigma, Capiz, Philippines.

Mangoso Elementary School currently serves a population of 378 students and 15 teachers.  In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan damaged all of the classrooms at the school, six of which were completely destroyed.  Global Playground will rebuild three of these classrooms for students in third and fourth grades.  Additionally, a water catchment will be affixed to the roof of the new classrooms to capture fresh drinking water for the community.

“Global Playground is excited to invest in Mangoso Elementary School and in the future of its students,” said Doug Bunch, Chairman of Global Playground.  “These new classrooms respond to an urgent need at the school.”

The village of Mangoso is known for its expansive farming plains and rice crops. There are 2,125 residents, most of whom are rice farmers, earning $2-3 per day for their efforts. On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan occupied Capiz for over five hours, devastating the province, destroying homes, buildings, and schools, and affecting hundreds of thousands of residents of the province, including those in the village of Mangoso.

Global Playground will partner with Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK) to build the new classrooms. ARK works in rural communities in the Philippines to feed kids, get them back to school, and create new income for their families.  Among other projects, ARK has piloted a school feeding program to address malnutrition in rural communities.

Visit Global Playground’s website to make a contribution or learn more about its work.

Global Playground Announces New School in Myanmar

Monday, December 15, 2014 | posted by Doug Bunch |

Global Playground today announced that it will fund the construction of a primary school in the village of Paw Myar in Nyaungshwe Township, Taunggyi District, Shan State, Myanmar (formerly Burma).  The school will immediately serve 26 children at ages ranging from preschool to fourth grade, but can accommodate up to 40 children.  Currently children in Paw Myar attend school in a bamboo hut.  The new school, which will cost $21,300 to build, will include a well, two outbuildings, and a solar energy system.  It will be built this coming spring and will be ready for the new school year which begins in June 2015.  Global Playground will work with Global Community Service Foundation, its partner in Vietnam, to build the school.

“Global Playground is thrilled to bring a new school to the children of Paw Myar,” said Doug Bunch, Chairman of Global Playground. “Burma now joins Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam on Global Playground’s list of project sites.  For less than the cost of a new car in the United States, we will increase educational opportunities for kids in Burma and connect them to their peers across the world.”

Global Playground has also just announced its new Global Fellowship, which will supply two years of funding for a recent college graduate to teach and work with the communities at Global Playground’s project sites worldwide, including the new site in Myanmar.

To make a contribution to Global Playground, visit its website.

Global Playground Inaugurates Khe Sanh Primary School

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 | posted by Ellie Kaufman |

Global 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. 

“The 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 Director.

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.

Global Playground 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. 

Global Playground Appoints New Board of Directors

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.

This 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.

“I 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.”

Jason 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.

“I 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.”

Maga resonates with Global Playground’s ability to tie two distinctive goals into one organization.

“Global 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.

Current 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.

“I 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.”

Tanap believes her new role on the Board connects with her every day goal to teach her students English through a cross-cultural lens.

“At 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.”