The Power of Connection: Discussing the Environment with New York State and Kenya Connect

This past spring, Level Up Village partnered with New York’s Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES and Kenya Connect to pair third grade classrooms in New York State with fourth grade classrooms in rural Kenya in a customized course tied to both New York and Kenyan social studies requirements. The course, entitled “Connecting with Communities Around the World: Collaborating to Learn about Geography, Humans, and the Environment,” ran for 5 weeks beginning in May.

Students focused first on getting to know each other through a friendly video exchange and then moved on to  research and discussion of environmental issues in both regions. For Kenya, these included deforestation, sand harvesting, water pollution, and air pollution. Students from New York discussed pollution, beach erosion, endangered animal species, and invasive species of plants and animals. Students created and exchanged Video Reports on their research, then discussed and created another video with their thoughts about the others’ environmental issues.

Comments from teachers on both sides centered around their students’ deep learning about the environment near their partner classes but also, in the words of teacher Elizabeth from Ndeini Public School in Kenya, “The course has helped my learners to improve their reading and communication skills. It has also enhanced their self-confidence.”

24 classes throughout New York State and 24 classes in Kenya took part in this initiative. The LUV team provided training via Zoom for New York state teachers; the highly experienced Kenya Connect directors led in-person trainings for the teachers in Kenya.

We are so grateful to our partners in New York and Kenya Connect for helping bring these exciting cultural experiences to over 900 students.

We will be working hard over the summer to expand this partnership and bring cross-cultural perspectives to even more students in the new school year!

Kenya Connect has been partnering with Level Up Village since 2015 and is committed to engaging and empowering students and teachers in rural Kenya to succeed in the 21st century. They have been an outstanding partner for Level Up Village over the years and we appreciate all of the hard work they do!

—Shelby Pinkerton, Level Up Village