It's been a whirlwind visit here in Jordan with the Global Nomads Group delegation. Along with delegates from the state of Kentucky education department and other Global Nomads partners, we've spent two days with students, visited the United States Embassy in Jordan and had a fascinating lunch with Ted Talk Fellow, Suleiman Khan.
Global Nomads’ mission is to foster dialogue and understanding among the world's youth. When you consider that less than 1% of students in the United States ever travel outside their home country, virtual exchanges over video, such as the ones that Global Nomads Group has created for over 1 million students to date in more than 50 countries on all continents, are invaluable cross cultural experiences. Moreover, these exchanges are between students in countries who wouldn’t otherwise engage, such as a recent exchange between students in southcentral Los Angeles and Syrian refugees.
Our Polycom team met Jordanian students who have leveraged Polycom’s video technology to discuss and collaborate on very serious, wide ranging issues such as early marriages for girls, bullying and environmental issues. A fun STEM project over video involved collaborating to solve an environmental problem – making trash cans more attractive so people would use them more (in this case, the bin says “thank you” after you put trash in it, powered by solar panels!).
These programs are not one time events; they are long term projects where students meet in one of two project tracks: global citizenship and STEM. The Jordanian students we met had never met anyone from the United States before their work with Global Nomads Group, and it has helped with their English skills, their presentation ability (one girl talked about being much more shy before having to present over video with her project), and problem solving. As an HR professional, all of this is music to my ears, as I saw the workforce of the future in all the students I met!
Through the Global Nomads Group projects, Jordanian students are meeting Americans for the first time over video. One school we visited, an all-girls school, had very limited resources; the principal told us that they only get $600 a year from the government for school supplies and equipment, including heat and air conditioning. She and her students are very creative when it comes to finding resources, recycling and reusing all kinds of items to create learning opportunities. And, like any school I ever attended in the US, they hold fundraising activities such as hosted movie nights, open to those in the community, where they sell popcorn and other snacks. One of the interesting challenges for the principal is working with parents before the virtual exchange can happen because the schools in the US are coed. She has to find ways to reassure and convince the parents that it’s okay and safe for their daughters to participate in a program that includes talking with male students.
This is my first time in Jordan, and I’m fascinated, learning so much about the people and culture. We met with an educator who told us that 28% of the population is between ages 15 – 29, and while 70% graduate from college, over 50% of these young people are unemployed. He explained that Jordan has maintained stability in an otherwise unstable region through progressive leadership, fostering positive relationships with other countries in the region, the United States and Russia (the Jordanian royal family is well known for their diplomatic skills), and by maintaining a strong military and intelligence service to protect their citizens.
It’s been wonderful meeting so many Jordanians who work with Global Nomads, and I’ve learned so much. The food is equally amazing and I’ve come to love lemon with mint juice and enjoyed falafel at the oldest falafel shop in Jordan.
I find myself inspired by the way Global Nomads Group uses Polycom video collaboration solutions. These education programs truly make a difference in the lives of students around the world, and seeing it in action makes you appreciate the possibilities brought to life through video collaboration. If programs such as this were put into place more universally, we could change the landscape of our society, build a more cultured and understanding population and change the world. Through this technology we can achieve anything.
More in my next blog about meeting Ted Talk Fellow Suleiman Bakhit and our visit with the Cultural Affairs Officer of the US Embassy (I may have a sales lead for the EMEA team too!).