Why Global Kids Matters
When I joined Global Kids in 2011, I knew that it was an organization with impactful programs, providing a range of in-school, afterschool and summer programs, with a youth driven learning model that taps into students’ curiosity and prepares them with the skills and tools they need to make an impact. By integrating global awareness, digital media learning, peer-education, academic skill building, and college and career preparation, Global Kids enables underserved youth to explore critical issues facing the world and learn how these issues are relevant to their own lives. I had come to see a talk at Global Kids on the use of Open Sims to teach kids about human rights, and I immediately thought that it was a place that I wanted to keep in my radar. It became clear to me that it was a special organization, when I came for an interview for a Program Associate position and they told me that the students were part of their staff selection process. As part of that selection process, I came to do a workshop using Scratch and after the workshop, the students asked questions about my professional career, my goals as an educator, and why I wanted to be part of their lives. It was an impressive display of young people taking charge of selecting who they wanted to be part of their learning process. Now, I really wanted the job. And I got it!
Global Kids, was highly collaborative, energetic, and placed the young people it served at the center of their work. I traveled to several sites around the city, getting to know a complex system of partnerships with schools and other cultural institutions, including the Hive Learning Network.
Later on, as I took on the role of the Associate Director of OLP, my goal was to continue creating programs that aligned with the mission of Global Kids, and develop projects that used technology and digital media in meaningful ways to a group of a diverse middle and high school students who come primarily from a Hispanic and African American background. It was not an easy task. I was always thinking about sustaining programs that were successful, but also creating new ones that would bring a new and interesting focus to the organization. I started using little bits for a workshop about natural disasters, and created the Hive Youth Meetups to bring youth from different organizations across the Hive NYC Learning Network to increase their awareness about the possibilities of collaborations and programs available to them. I was also interested in expanding programs to other networks, and worked with Hofstra University and Educational Development Center on the iDesign program, to bring game design, culturally relevant pedagogy, and developing computational thinking to after-school programs for middle schools in Long Island and New York City.
During my time at Global Kids, I had the opportunity to work with an impressive group of people, like Sara Vogel, Joliz Cedeño, and Ryan Waingortin, part of the OLP team. We worked to brainstorm and develop workshops that were innovative and well designed. Through the grants and professional development of Hive NYC Learning Network I also worked with people like Dixie Ching (NYU) and Rafi Santo (Indiana University) of Hive Research Lab, Erica Kermani (Eyebeam), Vee Bravo (Tribeca Film Institute), Marisa Jahn (Rev Studio), Zac Rudge, Ana Campos (Parks and Recreation), Rob DiRenzo (Digital Ready), Brian Cohen (Beam Center), etc. All of them professionals working with youth that were always thinking about how to innovate, inspire and create substantive programs. Of course, working with Leah Gilliam, Chris Lawrence, Lainie DeCoursy and Julia Vallera—all from the Mozilla/Hive Networks team— was also a highlight during my time at Global Kids. There were so many great, inspiring colleagues that I designed and collaborated with over the years that the list is too long to complete! If I miss you, it was an oversight, nothing else.
I learned a lot from Barry Joseph (American Museum of Natural History) and Jack Martin (Providence Public Library), who were at the helm of OLP before me.
As many of you know, I am moving out of New York City and join the Seattle Public Library as their Digital Media and Learning Manager. As anyone in our profession knows, when an opportunity comes along that is both personally and professionally attractive you have to rise to the occasion, so is the case for me with the position in Seattle. However, none of my professional development would be possible without the support I received here at Global Kids, especially from its Executive Director, Evie Hantzopoulos. I will always bring a little of GK with me. The work that they do in the fields of youth development, service learning, and international affairs education is not only important for the more than 1,300 youth reached in the after-school and in-school programs but also for professionals like me who find a calling to serve youth and communities around the world. It is for that reason and for many more that I ask you to continue supporting Global Kids, please take the time to make a donation at http://donate.globalkids.org
Keep reaching out to them and forming the strong collaborations that make them unique and special. For questions regarding programs or other matters, please email evie (at) globalkids.org.
GK All Day!