OLPCorps Brandeis University Senegal
Team Members: Allyson Goldsmith, Rachel Berman-Vaporis, Rachael Lavi, Cecelia Watkins, and Hannah Kirsch
Allyson Goldsmith, the founder and executive director of ELEVEate, is a junior at Brandeis University majoring in Sociology and minoring in International and Global Studies. She is also the executive director of Positive Foundations, a student-run organization that focuses on sustainable development. Allyson is conversational in French. Allyson has experience working in Kaolack, Senegal.
Rachel Berman-Vaporis is a sophomore at Brandeis University majoring in International and Global Studies as well as Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Rachel is also minoring in Classics and studying Spanish and Arabic. Rachel is the director of policy for Positive Foundations.
Rachael Lavi is a junior at Brandeis University majoring in Politics and International and Global Studies with a minor in Economics. Rachael is a supervisor at the Brandeis Phone-a-Thon, which has allowed her to develop good people management skills. Rachael is also conversational in French.
Cecelia Watkins is a sophomore at Brandeis University majoring in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and minoring in International and Global Studies. Cecelia is a very active member of Positive Foundations. She initiated and co-ordinated the first semester of Junior Brandeis Achievers, which provides after-school programming for over seventy elementary school-aged children.
Hannah Kirsch is a premedical junior at Brandeis University majoring in Health: Science, Society, and Policy. She is deputy editor of Brandeis’ independent student newspaper, the Justice, and president of Brandeis Quiz Bowl. Hannah plans to pursue a career in rural African HIV/AIDS care and spent last summer performing village triage in Bukhawekha, a district of eastern Uganda.
The program will be centered in the Kaolack, Senegal,a rural town in the center of the country.
Through partnering with ELEVEate, the team will work with 100 12-year-old girls who are enrolled in the Kaolack Summer School for Girls. These girls will be selected through a short application and teacher recommendation process in order to find the most dedicated students. The team will spend the first few weeks of the ten-week period teaching the girls how to use the computers and helping them develop the cognitive skills that will be crucial for the later part of the project. This will also allow the girls to become more familiar with the team, which will allow them to be more comfortable sharing their life experiences which will lead to more detailed blog entries which will offer greater insights into their lives. The team will also teach the girls how to use the programs that come on the XO laptops.
The second portion of the internship will be spent creating a blog and teaching the girls how to maintain the blog. The blog will focus on an exploration of the girls’ daily lives, as well as a discussion of social challenges to their community and brainstorming ways to create social change. The blog will give the girls a voice within the community and the global world. The first step in the process will be to show the girls our personal diary entries and other similar blogs. This will give them a base understanding of the purpose and strategies of the blog. Then the girls will write and post their introductory blog post. The girls will blog twice per week from the inception of the blog until the end of the summer program. After this, the girls will continue to blog once a month, which will be funded by ELEVEate.
Goals of the Model:
- It will create basic technology skills.
- It will allow the girls to communicate their thoughts and ideas on the challenges facing the community and the larger world, which will lead to empowerment.
- It will create global connections between students and promote cross cultural learning.
- It will teach critical communication skills to both the girls and children in developed countries.
- It will build cognitive skills
ELEVEate is a non-profit organization based in the United States working to improve the well-being of girls by providing them with greater access to education. Its current emphasis is on teenage girls residing in the Kaolack region of the Republic of Senegal. The challenges these girls face are ones girls confront in many nations on the African continent. ELEVEate’s vision is a world in which every girl is able to acquire the skills needed to pursue her dreams and to develop a strong sense of dignity, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.
The Kaolack Summer School for Girls (KSSG) receives the bulk of its funding through a grant from ELEVEate. KSSG is available for girls grades 6-12. KSSG classes are taught exclusively by female teachers, leading to a more comfortable academic setting than that provided by public school, and the female teachers serve as positive role models for the girls.
The team is currently working on creating partnerships with schools in the United States, which would focus on connecting American students to the girls in Senegal through the blog.
The team would also like to work with other teams to connect the girls in Senegal to children in other African countries.
Why We Chose to Work With KSSG:
We chose to work with KSSG because the team has connections to both the girls involved in KSSG and the administrators who direct the program. This will allow the team to easily integrate the XO laptops into the summer school curriculum. The strong ties ELEVEate has with teachers within the community will allow the organization to work with the teachers to integrate the XO laptops into the curriculum during the school year as well.
This program is highly sustainable because it does not require many resources. ELEVEate will cover the expenses of the Internet time required to continue the blog after the summer program ends. The blog will continue and will be regulated by an administrator in Senegal with whom the girls will regularly check in. The girls will be able to teach their peers the technical skills and knowledge they have gained through the the XO laptops as well as continue to empower each other to maintain this project. The blog will make communication with the girls easier, which will promote a stronger tie between ELEVEate and the girls involved in its programs.
The model is straightforward which allows it to be easily replicated. All an interested party would require to execute a similar project are the laptops and the use of the model. If ELEVEate expands into other regions, this program model would be easy to replicate in the new location because it does not have any particular language or cultural barriers.