Video collaboration helps students devise and implement project to raise awareness and money for relief from ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Jul 02, 2012 : Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), the global leader in open standards-based unified communications, today announced that Global Nomads Group (GNG) is using Polycom® RealPresence® video solutions to provide video collaboration for a Students Rebuild project that unites students in North America and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to jointly create and implement business plans that support community rebuilding projects in eastern DRC.
Students Collaborating to Make a Difference
Students Rebuild is an initiative that is led by the Bezos Family Foundation, and is supported by GNG among other partners to mobilize students worldwide to connect, learn, and take action to address critical global issues. This year, the challenge focuses on creating awareness about humanitarian crises in Somalia and the DRC. The program has brought together 150 students from eight schools in the U.S. and two in Canada to work with 50 youths at the ETN Vocational School in Goma, DRC. Many of the students at the ETN school have been through tremendous suffering in their war-torn country. Most of the male students are former child soldiers, while most of the female students are survivors of gender-based violence.
Through video collaboration, the Congolese and North American students discuss opportunities to create handcrafted items such as necklaces, earrings, and bags in the DRC that North American students can sell. The profits are invested back into the Goma community, located in the Eastern part of the country on the border with Rwanda.
“Through the Students Rebuild program, we enable students around the world to engage in live problem-solving and knowledge-sharing discussions,” said Chris Plutte, Executive Director at Global Nomads Group. “Polycom video solutions and platform allow students to develop viable business plans, collaborate to accomplish common goals, and help to improve the lives of those living in the DRC. Video collaboration eliminates the barriers of time and distance separating the countries, and helps to enhance trust and understanding.”
A highlight video of the Students Rebuild program is available here.
Using Technology to Overcome Educational Challenges
More than 71 percent of the DRC population lives in poverty and the DRC has experienced a series of socio-political conflicts in recent years that have contributed to an environment in which Congolese students struggle to learn basic curricula. Recognizing the DRC’s challenges, GNG established a center to enable communication and inspire creative discussion between Congolese and North American youth as part of Students Rebuild.
Polycom® CMA™ Desktop, an all-in-one video collaboration software designed to improve productivity cost-effectively, enables Congolese students to communicate with students in North America via a laptop computer. The video display is projected onto a wall so the entire class can watch the conference feed. In addition, students have participated in a GNG pilot program that includes experiencing video discussions on tablets using Polycom® RealPresence® Mobile, a free app that extends video collaboration beyond traditional conference rooms. Polycom’s video collaboration software is powered by the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform, the most comprehensive software infrastructure for universal video collaboration.
“The discussions between students are unlike anything I’ve seen in a classroom,” said Plutte. “With video collaboration, students are able to share what they know about their own culture and economic environment, absorb new information and experiences from their worldwide counterparts, and bring their creative ideas to life. The clarity of the high definition experience makes it feel as though all the kids are in a room together. It's just incredible.”
In addition to the social entrepreneurship project, Students Rebuild partners including GNG, the Bezos Family Foundation, One Million Bones, and the poverty-fighting organization CARE International are inviting students to join the One Million Bones challenge to raise awareness about humanitarian crises that are occurring worldwide. Polycom’s video collaboration platform is facilitating cross-organizational and cross-border communication to organize students and support the One Million Bones challenge, which will result in a collaborative art installation that will cover the National Mall in Washington, DC, with one million handmade bones in Spring 2013.