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.