The name “School-to-School International” is based on the idea that linkages can help improve children’s learning. Education often considers “links” as connecting ideas to reality. For instance, if a teacher wants children to learn the word “goat,” does she write g-o-a-t on a blackboard or bring a goat into the classroom? When there are no goats to be had, a photo, demonstration, role-play, or story can serve as a reasonable facsimile. The word “goat” plus the reality of a goat is a linkage that creates a “concrete learning” for the student. Linkages can also happen between schools.
From sharing picture books to organizing extramural sports to corresponding with pen pals in other countries. These linkages can create learning opportunities for children on both sides of the exchange – and those learnings are deeper and more resounding because they are more concrete.
STS has organized all kinds of activities between schools in North America and ones in Guinea. For instance, several years ago an STS board member introduced his students to STS’s work in Africa. They set up a pen-pal program to allow the children to connect directly. And as their interest grew, began googling “Guinea” as part of their course work. The students then decided to get more involved. They organized a circus, read-a-thon, and other activities to raise money to provide wells, latrines, and first aid kits for partner schools in Guinea.
This year, young philanthropists struck again. This time a group of high school girls taking a social entrepreneurship class were given an assignment: “Go do something in the world.” Their research brought them to STS with the question: “How can we help kids in Africa?” After learning about our mission, the Whole Child Model, and discussing options, they decided to raise funds to support hygiene management so that girls can stay in school beyond puberty. Through sources such as Go Fund Me, Sree Sareday, Sara Martin, Elena Rexach, Karolina Buzsko, and Kate Vanderbosch from Los Gatos High School raised $5,135 to provide Menstrual Hygiene Management training to girls in six schools and to distribute locally made, reusable sanitary pads for girls and female teachers in those schools.
Finally, we arranged for the girls from Los Gatos High to connect with their peers in Tanzania as well as the training leaders, Ruthie Mereki and Hawa Kipili who founded Elle Peut Nadim. And just like that, ideas became realities and learning made concrete.