Allan Kakinda, iEARN-Uganda Alumnus
Impact of iEARN on my Life
I joined iEARN as a student in my early high school i.e. 2002 at Namilyango College, Uganda. I had learnt about iEARN through a visit to the SchoolNet Uganda offices, which is the implementing organization of iEARN activities in Uganda. My main motivation at that time of joining was mainly to be able to connect with other youth around the world and in my own small way be able to contribute solutions to some of the global problems with other youth and educators around the world. I have participated in a number of iEARN projects such as the Global Teenager Project, Feeding Minds Fighting Hunger, Folks Tales, Eradication of Malaria and HIV/AIDS, Teddy Bear project and Adobe Youth Voices (AYV). All these projects have helped improve my understanding of world, how the world operates and what is happening elsewhere in the world and thus making me a global citizen who is now more concerned about the issues affecting the entire globe and not just my local home area.
As a student, through my participation in iEARN activities I developed more concern for community related issues and how we can as young people in our own small ways contribute to solving the problems facing our communities. I learnt how to share and learn from resources and knowledge with other people within in the network. The activities also developed in me 21st century skills such as team work, tele-collaboration, cross cultural understanding, technology literacy, creativity and innovativeness, working across different time zones, empathy and effective communication. I was also able to make very many friends across the globe without physically ever meeting them.
As an educator, I was able to do my first ever online course i.e. the Adobe Youth Voices Online Professional Development course where I graduated as an iEARN Master teacher. During the course I was able to experience and also learn what it is like to be a virtual student, having a virtual classroom, virtual lessons and virtual classmates. We were able to work collaboratively with our facilitators and each other as students to help each other so that each and every one of us can complete the course despite the fact that we were coming from different cultures, countries and time zones and I am happy to have been chosen as one of the facilitators of the next course starting this September. I have also been able to mentor other young people into media making. My AYV site has so far created two media pieces i.e. a documentary on gender disparity in science and another film on young people and their dreams called "Why do my dreams keep changing?"
Last year I was invited to the first ever AYV global summit in Palo Alto, CA, USA with two of my youth artists, where we were trained and received inspirational talks from professional filmmakers and software developers. This was a huge motivation to my students and they have been able to go on with media production even at college. One of them is a freelance web designer and media maker and the other works at a big photo studio where she is one of the chief photo editors.
At the summit through an interaction with the Deputy Director of iEARN-USA I managed to secure myself an internship with iEARN-USA where I am currently. The internship has helped me put a face to names of some the people I had interacted with earlier on the iEARN network such as Ed Gragert whom I first talk to way back in 2002 when I was still a student, Losira Okelo, Anindita Dutta Roy, Lisa Jobson and Diane Midness. I am also learning a lot about how iEARN-USA operates and the activities they are involved in while sharing with them my knowledge, skills and experiences from iEARN-Uganda. It is also exciting to be one of the people behind the iEARN website, controlling what people see especially given the fact that I have been using this website for 9 years. I am also happy to be staying in the big city i.e. New York city for the next 6 months where I am learning a lot about the American people and cultures while touring some of the most interesting places in the world.
I would like to say thank you to everyone in the iEARN network for I do not know where I would be right now if it had not been for all of you. I am looking forward to doing a masters in Education with a focus on helping other teachers effectively integrate ICT into Education and use projects to make learning for their students more interesting. I also look forward to getting back to Uganda and sharing all my experiences with iEARN Uganda to make it more active and also to encourage other young people in Uganda to participate in iEARN activities.