In this two-part blog, guest blogger Chris Plutte visits The View to share his perspective on how video collaboration can dissolve the cultural boundaries that too often separate people – and especially children. Chris is Executive Director of Global Nomads Group, which he co-founded 16 years ago to foster dialogue and understand among the world’s youth. For more than a decade, Global Nomads Group has relied on Polycom technology to help bring virtual exchange programs designed to establish meaningful connections between students in North America with children in conflict-ridden places throughout the world.
For 16 years, I’ve seen what can happen – what always happens – when school children from one place in the world speak face-to-face with their peers who live in another place and culture. When kids in Kentucky talk with kids in Kabul. When they learn together. When they share their worries and ideas and dreams. When they really, truly connect.
What happens? The misconceptions they once held about each other disappear. They understand how much they have in common. They no longer distrust or fear people they never knew in the first place.
Less than three percent of people have an opportunity to interact with someone from another culture during their schooling. My job is to bring that opportunity to the other 97 percent. This has been my focus, in one way or another, since founding Global Nomads Group, a non-profit organization that operates at the intersection of international and peace education.
Every year, Global Nomads Group hosts virtual exchange programs available to teachers throughout North America and elsewhere. Our programs align with Common Core Standards to ensure time spent learning about other cultures fits within a student’s broader educational experience. For thousands of schools, the programs have been made available at no cost; the rest pay a nominal fee. The goal is to help young people build a better understanding of their world at a time when the world is growing smaller and ignorance of other cultures breeds fear, suspicion, and prejudice.
Through , webcasts, social networking, gaming, and participatory filmmaking, we’ve reached more than one million young people in 50 countries. Through the years, we’ve worked closely with Polycom, whose support has helped us deliver interactive cultural exchange programs from places like Rwanda, Chad, Mozambique, Egypt, Northern Uganda, Afghanistan, and Brazil. There is nothing like speaking face-to-face with someone on the other side of the world to establish impressions that last a lifetime.
It’s easy to trace our history with Polycom because it has enabled such a big part of our offerings. I recently presented our story to a group of prospective partners, and my slide presentation essentially consisted of photographs from our work in the field. Every photo, from Rwanda in 2004 to Afghanistan in 2012, had two elements that remained constant: young people and Polycom technology. They both are essential to what we do.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss the Global Nomads Group’s biggest challenge – reaching more young people than ever before – and how Polycom technology will help us overcome it.
Click the preview below to watch Chris' TEDx Talk where he talks about the Global Nomads Group and shares heartfelt first hand accounts of the difference video collaboration can make in children's lives.
Learn more about Global Nomads Group and Polycom’s partnership here.