This is the first in a four part series on the potential that students’ after school support networks have to enhance the quality of their education.
When we initiated the the journal feature on http://www.theschoolfund.org we hoped for big results. Students write in their journals at least once a month and donors are encouraged to write back. We hoped that through regular, meaningful conversations both students and donors would learn about life on the other side of the world and put a human face on the lives of people they aren’t likely to encounter otherwise. We hoped that donors and students could befriend one another and begin to build a more peaceful world. We hoped to build a network of globally minded citizens who would be inspired to take action and change the world. Our hopes were high, but we couldn’t imagine the results that were actually achieved.
This past summer a team of TSF volunteers travelled to Tanzania to meet up with some of our partners and students. We asked our students why they thought journaling was important. Students responded that journaling with a donor made them work harder in school, because they felt like their donor cared about their achievements. These journal conversations were acting as a support network for the students and encouraging them to apply themselves. Many of our students are orphans or come from homes that are broken by disease, poverty, or addiction so the support from their donor became incredibly important.
The simple knowledge that someone cared whether these students succeeded or failed made a huge impact on many of the students we spoke with. Talking to these students helped us realize the power that networks have to improve students’ quality of education. It also helped us renew our commitment to building these networks, both virtually through online journals, and increasingly on the ground.
In the next few weeks we’ll be talking about how we’re building up networks to enhance students’ educational experiences, as well as highlighting other projects and organizations that do the same. By connecting students with their local and global community, we hope that students can achieve their highest potential.