The year that was. the year of the Black Swan

Last year’s economics Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo advised young students about the best way to learn: “Go out there find some experience. Work with an NGO, volunteer somewhere.” We at OMP liked that!

We had great volunteers during the first few months. They had to leave one by one, however. So had our trainees!
The Covid reminded us about the negative effects of globalization. Our work was disrupted, volunteers,  trainees, camps, schools.
Read about what happened and how we are adapting to life after Covid. Talented OMP trainee alumni and volunteers from Cisco help us find ways to work at our Center, in camps, and at schools with children and teachers.
One day we hope for a return, of trainees, campers, volunteers, vaccine, and travel rules permitting! Now we prepare to help everyone with online solutions.
Stay tuned to learn about our work, about our Cisco OMP Alumni project, about volunteering online.

SEASONS GREETINGS and SABAI DEE PIMAI!

HAPPY NEW, 2021!

The year that was. A Black Swan

We had to rethink our work and find new ways to work and help people.

Covid disrupted everything, killed people and it could have killed OMP too!

Openmind Projects was conceived in the belief that IT could be the poor man’s best friend! Now we also know our task-based learning by doing pedagogy works. Young trainees and campers learn and more importantly, they become motivated, they like to learn!

Now our challenge is to work and help more online. Of course, we look forward to welcoming back volunteers, young trainees, campers, and helping schools and other projects again!

Early 2020
We enjoyed working with great volunteers and trainees, and we planned for village kids to come to our April camps.
In January Cisco Systems staff contacted us. They had learned about  Openmind Projects and wanted to volunteer with us. Local Thai education authorities were enthusiastic and offered to host Learning Camps. Then Covid put a stop to that. We hope to welcome Cisco and other volunteers next year!

 

Our trainees learned and improved. They prepared guided tours around Nong Khai as a way to learn and improve their English They searched online for facts and then created ‘marketing’ presentations and guided tours. Enthusiastic volunteers helped and trained to be guides and/or teachers. Our trainees set up an organic garden, and an OMP BBQ shop with the help of energetic volunteers. They accompanied volunteers to Lao projects and produced great videos and leaflets about Openmind Projects. We worked on an Online Charity Shop to help villagers sell their handicrafts to earn extra income.
At our Training Center, we worked to be able to use ads funded by the Google Grants we have been entitled to, and volunteers helped us. We worked to improve our website and volunteers also helped with online reviews. As a result, we are now listed on GreatNonprofits, https://greatnonprofits.org/org/openmind-projects. Then Covid interfered, interrupted our work again. We also fundraised and volunteers were a great help, see below. With Covid, this was critical!

Big thanks and congratulations to our volunteers and trainees!

Fundraising gave OMP a new lease on life
We were invited by Riot Games to a global campaign. Impact Assets and GlobalGiving, major organizations that work to bring corporations and NGOs together, had recommended us. OMP was one of three NGOs nominated in Southeast Asia!

Riot Games players around the world fundraised and were to vote for their favorite NGOs in each region. GlobalGiving helped us fundraise. Volunteer veterans Shireen and Arif/Kauser were great fundraisers too. Young volunteers Jessica, Alice, and Christian arranged special and successful fundraising in Switzerland! We really want to thank everyone, our generous donors, and volunteers!  Thanks to you friends and supporters we are now able to adapt and prepare for A.C. After Covid! We hope to see many backs next year!

Read more: Donor thanks

Moving the training Center

We have for many years collaborated with local Arun school and were offered space to relocate our Training Center there, still in Nong Khai.  It was not sustainable to go on paying rent and other costs for our old Training Center without any trainees or volunteers! The new Center will have a training room and will be ready for online studies with online volunteers, as well as space for a new organic garden and sports. A volunteer group led by John from Australia has offered to help us build dorms. We actually did already have a great camp, see below, at the school in September!  Our little BBQ shop has also moved and is doing very well, managed by Kai and alumni Myna.

Camps
We could do no camps at our Center with no volunteers and no trainees to help and kids not allowed to come. A group of village children, however, could come to stay and learn English at our old Center in April.

And in July we did arrange camps for the Non-Formal Education Department in Sang Khom for village adults and dropout students. Our trainee alumni, James, Tew, and Namthip, were volunteers! Tew is now an English teacher. James studies international relations at university, back from a Fulbright scholarship in the US. Namthip was on a break from her studies in China! It was very rewarding to see them come back as volunteers!

We had a camp at the Arun School in September. Again, trainees stepped in as volunteers. James with his university friend from Bangladesh, Din, Myna from Laos, Nut, an English teacher student from Udon, and Tew. TT and Kai did a great job preparing the camp. Jim and Sven were the trophy farangs:-).
Nice to see all, including the local teachers, so engaged in camp activities!
Nice also to see the kids interact and to find some really quick thinkers! Activities not only English but also thinking and other challenges. Campers as usual loved to compete in teams! Camps do serve as an important inspiration to kids. So how to conduct camps with online support? This is one of things we are working on now.

volunteer summer camp Thailand

The second part of 2020.
For many years, we have provided free education to the young but poor. Our international volunteers have done a great job! Some OMP trainees have gone on to university or are already teachers, some have tourism or hospitality jobs or are working with IT, media. Covid had forced us to rethink and made further digitization a must. Universities and schools have been increasing their use of digital education. But Edtech for the poor lags behind!

Collaboration with Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems contacted us again in August! This time it was volunteers from Taiwan, India, and Australia. Would OMP want their help, maybe as a long-term partner?

Quote: Cisco strives to prepare poor people to live and work in a digital world through IT education and learning projects and by developing scalable technology-based solutions. They want to enable nonprofits and social enterprises to create and sustain positive social change.

Fifteen OMP alumni are now stepping up to work with Cisco volunteers to help OMP adapt to after Covid work and to serve as a model for local NGOs and schools. How can digital education contribute to more equal and better education opportunities for the poor? We’re working to develop, test and implement digital solutions, and adapt our successful learning methods with the help of online volunteers.

OMP alumni in this Cisco project come from Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar and work online in teams with Cisco volunteers. They are simultaneously preparing to act as camp leaders and digital ambassadors at schools and in villages. They study or work in Thailand, Laos, Australia, or Sweden!

They compare how they studied at school and how they learned at OMP. They discuss with volunteers how to work at our Training Center, our camps, and in schools.  And will suggest ideas, solutions.

Online Platform
We are also developing an online platform, a virtual Training Center, where volunteers, trainees, campers, teachers, and supporters can meet, learn, teach, and exchange ideas.

Teacher Training
We have in mind to design a training program for teachers to combine OMP pedagogy with online education. We want to start by training a pilot group of teachers.
Online Volunteer Pool We aim to create an Online Volunteer Pool to help us, schools, teachers, and students in our future work! And hope many of our good volunteers will be able to help one way or another. The Tourism Authority of Thailand, TAT has asked Openmind Projects for help to mobilize ex-pats in Thailand to travel to volunteer.
We will suggest projects but need funding to implement them. Our ambition is to have three pilot projects ready for implementation in 2021.
One project for our new Training Center for students to learn with online volunteers.A camp project where we can invite and introduce online volunteer help.

A school project and a training program for teachers to introduce at schools with the help of OMP.
If you are interested in more information, to follow our work, email [email protected]net or go to https://www.facebook.com/OpenmindProjects or
send a message to WhatsApp +66 87 233 5734 or +66 63 313 1879.

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