Project Ghana Links Hearts and Minds

Asbury Park - Ghana Project

Students from Asbury Park Middle School visited Ghana on Nov. 9. Thanks to technology made available from Polycom, it didn’t take 10 hours, but rather they were able to teleconference at the speed of light in the comfort of the school’s Media Center.

“Polycom Foundation donates equipment to non-profits that support children and can leverage technology at the same time,” said Laura Owen, Polycom Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer.  “We use this to expand distance learning opportunities. It’s really about connecting children.”

 

With mock passports in hand, approximately 50 Asbury Park middle-schoolers traveled more than 5,000 miles to Agona, Ghana in West Africa as part of a partnership through Oiada International. Oiada, a non-profit organization, has been providing educational and cultural programs that compliment schools’ core curriculum since 1997. They began partnering with Polycon in 2009 to engage students in distance learning programs.

During the visit, Asbury Park students shared a cheer, presented a banner and provided history on Asbury Park and the State of New Jersey. As an added bonus, they met Ghanaian King Terpor V of Agona, Ghana.

 

Educators tout the benefits of live, video conferencing as it offers face-to-face, real-time opportunities. It also helps students realize that they share the same challenges, fears and circumstances as their peers throughout the world.

 

In addition to the live chat, Asbury Park students collected school supplies that will be distributed to St. John’s Catholic Junior High School in Abrem, Agona Ghana. This was part of an ongoing effort to demonstrate school pride, social responsibility and teach the students that they can make an impact, according to Eric Jones CEO of Oiada International.

 

“Superintendent (Lamont) Repollet’s vision and desire for something greater than he was already seeing in the Asbury Park School District connected the two,” said Jones, who has partnered with the district for the past two years. “He wanted to have his students have a global experience by teaching them to make an impact in their community and ones thousands of miles away.”

 

Dr. Jeffrey Toney, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Kean University, was onsite to witness the exchange.

 

“We support global education. My hope is to build links,” said Toney, noting the university has a campus in Wenzhou, China. “What Asbury Park is doing here is innovative and our university community can benefit from connecting with them.”

 

Asbury Park Mayor John Moor and Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton also stopped in to offer support for the district’s global initiative.

 

“This is just unbelievably great to see technology being used in the (school) district,” Moor said. “You can tell by the expression on the children’s faces how successful this project is.”

 

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