June 23rd, 2007 05:56 EST
Doors to Diplomacy Contest Winners with Global School Net
Students from Minnesota, Taiwan take top honors in annual competition
The three students are the American winners in the sixth annual Doors to Diplomacy Web site contest. They share the top honors with four Taiwanese students who created a Web site exploring Taiwan’s international medical assistance programs.
Doors to Diplomacy challenges students ages 11 to 18 around the world to create Web sites that teach the importance of international affairs and diplomacy. This year, 190 teams from 38 countries submitted entries.
The winning Web sites are Doors 2 Cambodia, created by students from Triton High School in Rochester, Minnesota, and International Medical Aid, developed by four students from Ming-Dao High School in Taichung County, Taiwan.
“Others can learn from the research they did,” said Yvonne Marie Andres, founder of Global SchoolNet (GSN), which coordinates Doors to Diplomacy for its sponsor, the U.S. Department of State.
“They did an excellent job of presenting their position on issues of global importance and documenting what their research was,” she said, “and including multimedia and making it interesting.”
Global SchoolNet has pioneered global project-based learning, which brings students together online to collaborate on projects. The 2006 Doors to Diplomacy winners included three American students at an Internet-based “virtual school” who created their Web site entirely online through e-mail and conference calls. (See related article.)
“It’s all becoming multimedia, digital media, and the students love it,” Andres told USINFO. “The students love to be able to create and then have an audience for their creation.”
The Minnesota students’ site incorporates more than 40 video clips about their trip to Cambodia for a service-learning class. The clips can be seen on YouTube.com, and the students also have a page on MySpace.com.
The videos include interviews with Cambodian scholars – some in the Khmer language – and a record of the students’ visit to the garbage dump at Stung Meanchey, a district of Phnom Penh where some 70 families live. In one video entitled Tanh Na Rouk (Hell), a Cambodian man describes the killing of his father by the Khmer Rouge and the circumstances that forced him to move his family to the dump.
“Witnessing the tragic conditions [at the dump] was one of the worst feelings we experienced during the entire trip,” said the students on their Web site.
“One of the things that impressed the judges most about the Doors 2 Cambodia team was their work as 'ambassadors' for their project,” said Janice Clark, a public affairs specialist with the State Department. “Not only did they educate others, but [they] actually accomplished some tangible work.” The students helped dig wells in Cambodia, and in preparation for the trip they raised money for bathrooms and chalkboards for some schools and orphanages.
The Taiwanese students faced the challenge of producing their Web site in English (a contest rule) as well as Chinese, and they had to use instant translating software for their research, since much of the material was in languages other than Chinese.
The students raised money for AIDS projects and recruited classmates to sponsor impoverished children through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization. On their Web site, they said they discovered that even a small financial contribution could make a difference to those less fortunate.
Clark said she and the other judges were struck by the students’ extensive research and their advocacy for Taiwan’s international assistance programs. “Their theme was ‘Taiwan used to need help, and now we’re modern and we the Taiwanese need to give back,’” she said.
Each winning student receives a $2,000 scholarship and the adult mentors receive a $500 cash award for their schools.
In addition to the top two prizes, Doors to Diplomacy honored entries from Bulgaria, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, The Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the state of California.
Student peers and educational professionals did the preliminary judging, and final selections were made by the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs.
The winning sites can be viewed at Doors 2 Cambodia – including the video Tanh Na Rouk -- and The Role of Taiwan in World Health - International Medical Aid.
More information about Doors to Diplomacy is available from the Global SchoolNet.
The full text of the announcement of the winners is available on the State Department Web site. More information also is available on Future State, the State Department's youth site.