The School-2-School program combines virtual cultural exchange, community-based fundraising, and direct volunteering to advance goals related to education and mutual understanding at the grassroots level in the United States as well as in the Muslim World. Students learn about each other’s culture and history and become unofficial ambassadors of their communities, overcoming stereotypes of the “other.”
The S2S program has benefited thousands of students over the last eight years in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Panama, the Philippines, Uganda, and the United States. In 2013, School-2-School partnered American schools in Dallas, Texas and Lancaster, Pennsylvania with schools in Aceh, Indonesia and Islamabad, Bangladesh.
Lead teachers from the American school and the partner school design and implement a plan for their classrooms to engage with and learn from each other. At the same time, the American school raises money to purchase vital educational supplies requested by their partner school. In addition, an educator from the American school travels to the partner school over the summer to volunteer for two to four weeks with the school’s students or administration. The educator then serves as an ambassador of the experience, blogging about it and giving presentations to his or her school community and the wider local community. With 2012 and 2013 partnerships, schools in Colorado Springs, Lancaster (PA), and Dallas raised money for an electronic whiteboard in Amman, Jordan; computer equipment and science lab equipment in Islamabad, Bangladesh; as well as collected and shipped books to open an “American Corner” library in Aceh, Indonesia, respectively. Educators have volunteered as English and History teachers as well as trained faculty on the use of new technology in the classroom.
Later this year, S2S will send both teachers to their partner schools abroad as Unofficial Ambassadors to serve as volunteer teachers for 2-4 weeks and help them to share their stories with students, colleagues and their communities when they return.
This is a competitive program open to all American educators in middle schools or high schools, irrespective of geographic location. Participating American schools are expected to raise a minimum of $5000 to purchase educational supplies for their partner school. Partner schools are vetted carefully, and students and teachers in partner schools have appropriate English language skills to participate fully in the program. In 2014, School-2-School will continue to work with the Sukma Bangsa school in Indonesia and The Carter Academy in Bangladesh. If funding permits, we will expand our partnerships to a third pair of schools in 2014, too.
Students in at least two American schools and two schools in Muslim World countries will improve their cultural understanding and reduce the stereotypes they hold of the “other.” At least two schools will improve their infrastructure and capacity to deliver a higher quality education to their students. At least two American educators will serve as unofficial ambassadors, volunteering in their partner communities and then sharing that experience with thousands of Americans in their home communities through blog posts, news stories, and presentations.
American schools raise $5000 for their partner school to participate in this program. Each partner school covers the cost of the educator’s homestay, meals, and in-country ground transportation. Creative Learning raises $10,000 to support each partnership, which covers the cost of all flights, vaccines and immunizations, visas, and program administration. Opportunities to sponsor a full School-2-School partnership are available at levels ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. Donations of all sizes are accepted through our website. Please click on the donate button below or contact Benjamin Orbach at BenjaminO (at) Creativelearning.org.
Applications for the 2014 program will be available on our website in the first week of September, 2013. The deadline to submit applications for participation in the 2014 program is November 25, 2013.
“I’m just some guy. I’m not a celebrity, but anything I did was special to them….I loved it. I felt like I was accomplishing something great. This was the best teaching experience I’ve ever had.” - Sam Schindler, Lancaster (PA) teacher, on teaching English at The Carter Academy in Bangladesh in the summer of 2013 as part of the School-2-School program.
“It was a really eye-opening experience. I had no idea what that region would be like or what Indonesia was like or teaching at a school for refugees. It blew away any expectations. It was really inspiring to see that they had students who came from such difficult backgrounds and they created this learning centered background to achieve at the highest levels.” - Hannah D’Apice, Dallas teacher and Teach for America Corpsmember, on teaching at the Sumka Bangsa school in Aceh, Indonesia. The school was built for victims of the 2004 tsunami and Aceh’s internal conflicts.
“Acting as a representative of the US and giving them the chance to interact with an American – one of the teachers said that she thought Americans were all arrogant jerks … acting as a cultural ambassador was the biggest success and the most meaningful too. They were able to make that connection and able to speak to someone from this place they had heard something about but didn’t necessarily have exposure to.” - Hannah D’Apice, Dallas teacher and Teach for America Corpsmember, on teaching at the Sumka Bangsa school in Aceh, Indonesia. The school was built for victims of the 2004 tsunami and Aceh’s internal conflicts.
“We, the teachers, learned a great deal just from observing [Sam Schindler’s] classes. There, he was always in motion, almost like an actor, and the students were immediately engaged. He was able to draw out hidden talent from students as well as finding common ground with them.” – Iqbal Hossen Mozumder, vice principal of The Carter Academy in Islamabad, Bangladesh
“Our heart filled with joy when he came, it emptied when [he] went away. But the love we’ve kept for Mr. Sam, for the authority of LCDS, [its] students and our friends of LCDS in our heart will never be lessened a bit.”- Naimal Islam Emon, a student at The Carter Academy in Islamabad, Bangladesh on the visit of Sam Schindler of the Lancaster Country Day School (LCDS)
“If in every school of Bangladesh there is one Mr. Sam than every child will become a great man in his life.” – Hasan Siddiqui Sohan, a student at The Carter Academy in Islamabad, Bangladesh on the visit of Sam Schindler of the Lancaster Country Day School
For media inquiries or other questions about the School-2-School program, please contact Stefan Cornibert at StefanC at creativelearning.org.