Making a difference

This blog launched about a week ago.  My students — the intended primary audience — will learn about it in a few days (first day of school is Wednesday, but those are just 15-minute classes).  But my friend Ken from Kenya — Ken Okoth — has already left two comments on my blog (thanks Ken!)

The second of his comments said that because he saw the ClustrMap on my blog, he was inspired to add a ClustrMap to the blog for the foundation he established to help educate poor children in Kibera.  Here’s Ken’s comment:

In less than a week, my blog made a small difference in the world.  Specifically, it made a difference to someone in Tanzania (that’s where Ken is living these days), who updated his blog from Tanzania.   When you visit his blog, there’s a ClustrMap (follow the lime green arrow).

I helped create that ClustrMap on Ken’s blog.  And if you trace it back, Will Richardson — the blogger I follow who has an extensive ClustrMap — influenced me, so that I could influence Ken.

This is the power of making connections in the digital age.  Imagine what could happen if there were 70 students working to share their ideas about the world on this blog.  Let’s say, conservatively, that those 70 students each have three close friends around the world (according to their Facebook accounts, they likely have hundreds of friends each, but there are “friends” and then there are close friends).  That’s more than 200 people who could be influenced by this blog.  And those 200 people could influence even more people… and you get the idea.

This blog has been around for a week and it has already been viewed in these three countries:

I know the Tanzania views are from Ken.  The Sudan view is from another former colleague, James Kessler, who’s now teaching at a school in Sudan.  I told him about my blog, and he visited (thanks, James!)  And I think the Kenya view is Ken’s brother, Jeff.  But I need to confirm that one.

One thing that schools should be helping students do is to develop global networks of people they can work with and call upon throughout their lives.  Those networks start with the people at your school.  But there’s no reason they can’t expand throughout the world. 

If you trace things back even further, I need to thank Bill Brown, my former history department chair at the Potomac School.  Bill hired both Ken and James, and he did so with an eye towards expanding the expertise of the department — James specializes in Islamic Studies, and Ken is from Kibera, Kenya, and has an amazing life story.  (My next blog post will be about Kibera)

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity help Ken lead a high school service-learning trip in Kenya during the summer of 2009.  On that trip, I worked with 5th grade students in Kenya, where I introduced them to the power of blogging; saw zebras and other African wildlife up close; and was even interviewed on a radio interview at a radio studio in Kibera.  All thanks to Ken and his connections.

; ;

So thanks to Bill Brown for introducing me to two very cool people who have expanded my view of the world (Ken and James) and thanks to Will Richardson for inspiring me to blog and to share some of the tools that can make international interactions more meaningful.  Sharing a ClustrMap is just a start.  But then again, this blog is only a week old 🙂

What an amazing time it is to be learning about the world.


About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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