What has been the impact of your solution to date?
People within the UN and in the U.S. have responded favourably to this project idea. The goal of the project is to start off small but, ultimately, make this program available to students throughout the U.S. and various IDP Camps, connecting children of all ages in order to create greater cross-cultural understanding and to cultivate peace.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Children are the future. EMPATHY will begin re-shaping cultural mindsets, starting with children. By providing children with firsthand exposure to different cultures and people and providing them with the space to develop their own perspectives, they will begin to redefine how we – as cultures – view one another. Within the next 3 years, there will be a clear improvement in the knowledge children have on international relations, geography, and history, and children will demonstrate an interest in traveling and exploring the world.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
- Political changes with election of new U.S. president: Ensure students discuss political party views & respective influences on society/history.
- Military withdrawal: Monitor carefully.
- Time difference/Linguistics: Consider timing & use translator.
- Security: Ensure support/involvement of local actors (UN, NGOs, government) to reduce risks.
- Internet stability: UN & ISAF assist with Afghan connection.
- Financial Constraints: Use connections at S-VE, the UN, & Afghanistan to identify volunteers & corporations for donations (time, equipment/materials, funding).
- Refugees singled out as “Buddies”: Use opportunity for education (definition of a “refugee”, anyone could become displaced). Ensure “Buddy” program is voluntary.
- Cultural & religious differences: Sensitivity.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Support for project is solicited from U.S. School, UN, Afghan Government, & Displaced Camp in Afghanistan. Project is initiated.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Program is actively running with funding/voluntary efforts – classes, video conferencing, buddy program, fundraisers for IDPs.
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
I first envisioned this project following 9/11. The fear that arose, leaving many afraid to experience other countries & cultures, made me realize the importance of access to accurate information & cross-cultural understanding.
I resolved to implement this project when violently assaulted during a civil war. Suffering from PTSD, a side effect plaguing many involved in war, I gained insight into the effect of violence on the human psyche & the emotional scars it leaves. As I experienced, war triggers trauma & trauma triggers anger, hostility & violence, a vicious cycle.
I realized that we have the technological means to unite people from remote corners of the world but choose to remain largely isolated. It is up to us to use these means.