A Farewell to New Friends

A (Temporary) Farewell to New Friends & Teachers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Youth Expedition Project (YEP) returned to Singapore today after a two week stay at DEPDC/GMS’s Coordination Centre and Half Day School in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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Last Photos and Goodbyes

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Twenty-seven students and their three team leaders spent the last 14 days renovating the Patak Half Day School, teaching English in individualized groups, and leading team and character building exercises. These were tasks undoubtedly expected when they signed up to spend their Spring break volunteering abroad. They most likely did not expect to bond so quickly to other youths from Mae Sai, Thailand and Shan State, Myanmar. In the final hours of their journey, it was evident that meaningful relationships had been formed and a farewell would not be welcomed nor easy for YEP volunteers and the Half Day School and SYSTERM students. Many shared contact information, hugs, and tears as they said goodbye to their new friends early this morning.

But during this time, it is important to remember the last week of their journey and the many ways in which they taught and learned from the many youth attending DEPDC/GMS’s program.

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Last Saturday, YEP and SYSTERM students visited the Hall of Opium Museum in the Golden Triangle National Park. Here they learned about the history of the Golden Triangle, the opium war, drug trafficking, the fight against opium and poppy growing, and the steps taken to improve the living conditions of the ethnic minority groups who lived in this world famous drug trafficking region. The students enjoyed the opportunity explore outside the DEPDC/GMS Centre and to learn alongside their peers.

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On Monday, YEP students organized a community celebration to mark the end of their journey. The students were able to share their culture’s mutual love for the culinary and performance arts. SYSTERM, Half Day School, and YEP students performed traditional dances and sung songs which they felt represented their nation and/or state. Each group cooked a dessert and savory dish or two that allowed the students to taste something unique from their new friends’ world.

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As always, thank you for your time reading our update! We are excited to see what the future holds with our new friends from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and invite you to join us as well in our mission to combat human trafficking along the Thai-Myanmar border in Northern Thailand.

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Dear YEP Leaders and Students:

On behalf of the entire DEPDC/GMS team, SYSTERM and Half Day School students,thank you for the many hours of planning and hard work, but most importantly, thank you for your sincere generosity and willingness to open your minds and hearts to the youth at DEPDC/GMS.

We hope to see some familiar faces during NAP’s next Youth Expedition Project in September or on your own volunteer trips. Until we meet again, we wish you the best of luck on the road through your academic and life journey. Remember that you always have a home in Mae Sai, Thailand and in the hearts of those you touched during your 2018 Youth Expedition Project.                   

                                                                              

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Support DEPDC/GMS’s mission to prevent human trafficking and other forms of exploitation of ethnic minority groups who live along the Thai-Myanmar border through online donations or volunteering. Donations can be given using PayPal, Global Giving, and other tax deductible methods. Email the International Department at depdc.gms@gmail.com with any inquiries.

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Helping Hands from Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic

DEPDC/GMS is pleased to be hosting Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Youth Expedition Project (YEP) at the Coordination Centre and Half Day School in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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These bright and resourceful students have come all the way from Singapore to lend a helping hand and share their technical skills with the children and youth of DEPDC/GMS. In exchange, youth members of SYSTERM shared their own knowledge and experience to their new friends about the way of life for the people of Shan State, Myanmar.

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The Half Day School students completed final exams last week for the 2017-2018 school year. However, the HDS students with some additional children from the community continue to come to school each day to join in character, skill, and team building exercises led by 27 skilled students and their 3 professors who are participating in the Youth Expedition Project (YEP), an international service-learning program from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

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The Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) program is also partaking in these exercises as well as specific training catered to their specific field of interest. SYSTERM has four major groups: 1) Culinary Studies 2) IT and Media Production 3) Agriculture and 4) Fine Arts and Culture. Later this week, YEP members with specialties in media will train leaders of the IT and Media Production club how to design, create, and manage a personal website using a WIX platform.

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This weekend, SYSTERM gave a presentation on Shan State. YEP students were able to learn about the Shan people and their many unique traditions. They also learned about the history of Shan State and the current challenges the Shan people are facing as they struggle to keep their livelihood and culture alive amidst armed conflict in Myanmar where many ethnic groups are oppressed and exploited.

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Yesterday, YEP students organized a variety of skill and team building exercises which the HDS students, community children, and SYSTERM members completed in mixed groups. YEP, SYSTERM, and HDS students are gliding through the many present language and cultural barriers with ease and developing as many new friendships as they are skills.

Additionally, some of the Half Day School students with special needs are receiving one-on-one attention from YEP students studying for a diploma in Child Psychology & Early Education (CPEE) and Early Childhood Education(ECH).

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Thank you for your time reading our update! We are excited to see what the future holds with DEPDC/GMS’s new friends from Ngee Ann Polytechnic! Additionally, I look forward to updating you on SYSTERM’s journey through their six months of intensive training to prevent human trafficking in the many years to come!

Support DEPDC/GMS’s mission to prevent human trafficking and other forms of exploitation of ethnic minority groups who live along the Thai-Myanmar border with online donations. Donations can be given using PayPal, Global Giving, and other tax deductible methods. Email the International Department at depdc.gms@gmail.com with any inquiries.
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Half Day School Field Trip

End of the 2017-2018 School Year Field Trip

Last Friday, the Patak Half Day School went on a field trip to the main city of Chiang Rai. The school bus carried all the Half Day School students and 6 teachers on a study tour to celebrate the closing of the 2017-2018 school year.

The first stop was visiting a wildlife menagerie. Here the students were able to sharpen up on their photography skills previously learned with the YALL Art Project in the summer of 2017.

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The children were able to view up and close animals that they had never seen before. These included mongoose, Malaysian Sun Bear, Asiatic black bear, Gibbon monkeys, and a large variety of birds, including peacocks, toucans, and hawks.

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The remainder of the day, the children were heard imitating the distinctive call of the Gibbon, the collective favorite animal seen on this park visit.

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After the long bus ride into Chiang Rai and the walking tour of the menagerie, the children and teachers were ready to eat. A shaded area by a nearby stream was chosen to have lunch together.

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The next stop was visiting a river near Khun Gan Waterfall (น้ำตกขุนกรณ์ จ.เชียงราย). Though many took the time to change into bathing suits or active clothing, some of the youngest students jumped in without waiting another moment to change. The water was cold but this did not stop them from swimming and climbing over the cool rocks for hours.

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Swimming is one of the Half Day School students’ favorite activities which they rarely have the opportunity to enjoy. Every HDS student learns how to swim early on in their attendance to the DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School. Swimming lesson are taught at the “Swimming Home” in Mae Chan District, a shelter for ethnic minority children and youth who are survivors of abuse and abandonment, known as the Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home (MRICRH).

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It was easy to see that the students had had an exciting day from how quiet and still they were on the hour long bus ride home to Mae Sai.

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This week will be very busy for DEPDC/GMS and its various programs. The Half Day School will complete final examinations throughout the week and SYSTERM students will prepare presentations for a group of 27 students who will be visiting from Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic for two weeks.

As always, we sincerely thank you for your support and your time to read our news blog! Look out for more updates and photos by following us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

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Seeds for Change and the Gift of Rice

Seeds for Change and the Gift of Rice

Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN, a nurse from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, USA, came to visit DEPDC/GMS for two weeks to assist with the Patak Half Day School and SYSTERM program. During her visit, she provided assistance teaching English classes, donated 300 kilograms of rice, and taught lifesaving skills to over 85 children and youth. DEPDC/GMS would like to offer a special thank you to Sharon for her kindness and inspirational words. The following is an article written by Sharon Moreau:

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Sharon smiling as she helps push 300 kg of white rice.

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Arriving as a visitor to Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Center in the Greater Mekong Subregion (DEPDC/GMS), where they are conducting the six month long SYSTERM program (Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration), I quickly learned the importance of rice.

Rice is a vital sustenance for the students and is the most important component for every meal. I donated sixty bags, each weighing five kilograms, approximately eleven pounds, for a total of more than six hundred sixty one pounds of rice. Somporn Khempetch, the Director of Administration, was so happy as the students helped us unload the bags of rice which were transported by our friend Pi Wiwat, who is also a supporter of DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School for migrant school children. Somporn stated she was very grateful because it would feed the entire SYSTERM group for twenty more days, three bags per day.

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Somporn Khempetch (Kru Noom) shows the full rice cooker just before dinner.

There are fifty-four youths from Shan State in Myanmar who have received special permission to travel to the DEPDC/GMS Coordination Center in Mae Sai, Thailand for an intensive leadership and life skills program developed by Sompop Jantraka, the Founder and Director of DEPDC/GMS. Here they are provided living quarters, all their meals, access to computers, cell phones, a music room, lectures and training by guest speakers from the community, and a safe environment to work in.

These youths are all at risk, many are undocumented and stateless. They have special identification cards which are not to be confused with a passport or birth certificate. These identification cards must be stamped every seven days at the Thai-Myanmar border and so weekly the group is transported to the border by DEPDC/GMS teachers.

At DEPDC/GMS, the students are being taught to trust in themselves, learn vocational skills to sustain them in life and be as independent as possible.

They (SYSTERM) will be the seeds for change in their country and renew hope in their families and communities. They are the living embodiment of Mahatma Gandhi’s inspirational words, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world!” – Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN

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It was such a privilege to meet Sompop Jantraka and watch him reach out to the students with his fatherly mannerisms, and his kind and soft words to inspire them to new destinies. It was an incredible experience to witness the eagerness of these students to learn and absorb everything around them including languages, cultures, new ideas and life perspectives. Even as a registered nurse who is committed to lifetime learning, it was a humbling experience. I will never forget their faces, their smiles, their love of life and every day experiences.

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I encourage everyone to participate in programs like DEPDC/GMS and SYSTERM and to donate in any way possible. Rice, money for fresh vegetables, funding for internet access, self care products, and education materials are so appreciated and so essential for the DEPDC/GMS to continue to fund and conduct the SYSTERM program, maintain the Patak Half Day School for children at risk from exploitation and trafficking, developmentally delayed, and stateless migrants, and for the shelter for abused women and children.”

Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN

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Thank you Sharon and all those who have so generously supported DEPDC/GMS in one way or another in the last 28 years since Sompop Jantraka’s mission to protect children and women from human trafficking began to spread throughout the Greater Mekong Sub Region. Your donations bring these projects to life and provide new opportunities for at-risk youth to learn vital skills that affect change more than we can imagine. Supporting SYSTERM supports a global impact to end human trafficking. The ripple effects of your generosity give hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Give the Gift of Rice Today

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DEPDC/GMS is currently looking for an individual or company to sponsor the Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) program with rice. Please email the DEPDC/GMS International Department (depdc.gms@gmail.com) for more information if you are interested in sponsoring SYSTERM’s first group of 54 students or helping to make the next group of 50 students possible.

Give Now

Estimated Costs of Meal Support

  • $12 USD a day will pay for the supply of 15 kg of rice, the amount consumed by 54 students over the course of three meals.
  • $40 USD a day will supply all 54 students with 3 meals a day; this includes the cost of rice, fresh vegetables, spices and drinking water.
  • $84 USD covers the cost of rice (105 kg) for one week (7 days).
  • $672 USD will sponsor the first group of SYSTERM students with rice for the remainder of their 3-months of intensive training at the DEPDC/GMS Headquarters.
  • $2240 will sponsor the first group of SYSTERM students for another 56 days, the remainder of their 3-months of intensive training at the DEPDC/GMS Headquarters. This amount supports the full cost of providing 3 meals a day (i.e., cost of rice, fresh vegetables, spices and drinking water).
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SYSTERM Group A (photo taken January 20, 2018)

 

SYSTERM Students Learn How to Save Lives

SYSTERM Students Learn How to Save Lives

There are 54 SYSTERM students at DEPDC/GMS learning life skills who will now be able to actually save a life thanks to basic life support training provided by a registered nurse from Houston, Texas.

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Yesterday, February 15th 2018, the SYSTERM students learned how to perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich Maneuver. Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN, a nurse from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, USA, came to visit DEPDC/GMS for two weeks to assist with the Patak Half Day School and SYSTERM program. During her visit, she provided assistance with English teaching classes, donated 300 kilograms of rice, and taught lifesaving skills to over 85 children and youth.

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Lifesaving skills training consisted of Sharon showing demonstration videos, live roll-play, and providing one to one student training with CPR using her medical manikin brought all the way from the United States. The students did return demonstrations of a series of 30 compressions to 2 breaths to the beat of the song Stayin’ Alive by the BeeGees. Students learned how to check the carotid pulse on adults and children as well as the brachial pulse for infants. A four page handout was provided to each student which described the CPR process and Heimlich Maneuver, which included illustrations of the procedures and location of arteries. Verbal instructions were provided in three languages: English, Thai, and Tai Yai, the language of Shan State in Myanmar.

The students broke out into small groups to practice their skills with Sharon and her daughter, a volunteer at the center, supervising. The elected student leader of the group assisted with both translation and skill check offs.

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Four students stated they wanted to receive an education to become nurses and work in the poor communities of Shan State. They described the lack of medical care in their communities and the importance of more healthcare professionals with proper training. These four students were able to practice mouth-to-mouth breaths and watch the manikin’s chest rise using a face shield.

The SYSTERM program is six months in duration with the first three months dedicated to practical life skills and leadership and safety training. This week, the students studied media production, basic life support training, agriculture, music education, and cooking. Currently, DEPDC/GMS is focusing on Shan State because of the impact of the war torn area on minority ethnic groups who remain undocumented and are forced to migrate from Myanmar. The crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and human exploitation and trafficking have created a critical need for non-profit, non-governmental organizations such as DEPDC/GMS to provide aid and education and to create leadership programs for the youth. Such tragedies were the driving force behind the formation of SYSTERM, “Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration”.

Half Day School students in classes A, B, and C also learned how to perform CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver.

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Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN

Kristin Moreau, MS, CCC-SLP

 

 

 

Children’s Day Celebration at the Half Day School!

Children’s Day Celebration at the Half Day School!

The Patak Half Day School students were showered with love today! Tomorrow, January 13th, is Thailand’s National Children’s Day. DEPDC/GMS celebrated early in order to show how grateful we are for our students before the start of the weekend. For financial reasons, the school children are unable to partake in the joy of receiving a gift for other yearly holidays, such as birthdays, Christmas, and New Year’s. Therefore, DEPDC/GMS makes it our mission to make Children’s Day as special as it can be.

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The Patak Half Day School was full of happy faces and laugher today. HDS students, their siblings, and several local community children joined together for a day of fun games and delicious treats.

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Additionally, we were honoured to receive several SYSTERM participants, who will begin the Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) program next week here in Mae Sai at the DEPDC/GMS Headquarters. If you would like to learn more about this program, please visit our Global Giving project page.

The day’s activities included an egg and chopsticks race, balloon blowing competition, fishing for prizes, dispersal of classroom supplies, and a game of football/soccer. The final event was a gift exchange. All the children and DEPDC team members exchanged one unique present by drawing numbers at random. Some of the gifts included stuffed animals, warm blankets, and boxes of chocolate.

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DEPDC/GMS would like to offer a special thanks to the local men and women who joined us for our Children’s Day Celebration and helped make it a brighter day for all the students. A representative of Mae Sai’s TESCO donated rice for the HDS children and SYSTERM participants and multiple food dishes were donated by individuals from the community. In addition to hot and healthy meals, cupcakes, crepes, and brownies were also donated on this joyous day. Moreover, the students were excited to have a new group of young men to play a game of football with them.

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The Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Subregion (DEPDC/GMS) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation based in Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. This community-based organisation has a diverse 25-year history and currently works primarily to prevent and to protect children and youth from being trafficked into exploitative labour conditions.

The organization’s projects provide crucial preventative measures of education, vocational and life-skills training, protection and accommodation, family and community outreach services, and leadership development to at-risk children and youth in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

Learn more about DEPDC/GMS and how you can get involved on our blog!

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Local Running Club Gives DEPDC/GMS Some Love!

Local Running Club Gives DEPDC/GMS Some Love!

Representatives of the Mae Sai Running Club visited the Half Day School after their morning run on November 29th, 2017. They arrived with big smiles, monetary donations, and several large bags of second hand clothing.

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We love second hand clothing donations as they are initially used more frequently than brand new store bought items by many of our students. The children receive new socks and underwear multiple times throughout the year thanks to a few supporters. However, because they are brand new the children will often choose to wear older pairs or even go without in order to save the new clothing for a special occasion. For this reason, basic clothing items are always kept on hand in case a teacher finds a student with a torn item or going without while at school.

The warm clothing is much appreciated by our children. Temperatures can drop significantly during the winter months in Mae Sai, which is located in the far north-west corner of Thailand. Additionally, long sleeve shirts and sweaters are worn even throughout the warmer months to protect our student’s skin from the strong sun rays.

 

20171130_125721-1.jpgClothing donations from the Mae Sai Running Club and other community donors were dispersed the following day in a fun but orderly fashion

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The money was donated to help fund the Half Day School’s Lunch Program, which provides a nutritious midday meal for every one of our students. The Half Day School children were asked what they wanted to eat the next day after receiving the generous donation. Their response: noodles and Thai dessert!

The following day, all the HDS students and teachers enjoyed a favorite noodle dish with vegetables, soy milk, and a traditional Thai dessert, pumpkin soaked in sweetened coconut milk!

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Thank you Mae Sai Running Club for giving to the children of the Half Day School. Your gifts, time, and hugs were greatly appreciated!

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Half Day School Welcomes in a New Semester…and Some New Faces!

Half Day School Welcomes in a New Semester…and Some New Faces!

What is the DEPDC/GMS Half Day School?

            The Half Day School, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand, provides education to children who are at-risk of being trafficked into the sex industry and other forms of exploitive working conditions. Our students tend to be children of stateless persons and migrants from neighboring countries who are unable to receive an education through other means. Providing the children with a mid-day meal, shoes, school supplies, and various other needs assists the children directly while also providing an incentive for their parents to let them remain in school. Keeping children in school can often be a challenge, one which becomes more and more difficult with each passing birthday. This free education provides them with a safe environment to grow and learn, a basic human right which all children should enjoy. Additionally, the Half Day School provides an education with a focus on prevention strategies and the life skills needed to develop and maintain a self-sufficient life.

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 A New Semester Brings in Both New and Familiar Faces…

            September 13th through 17th was the first full school week back in session for the Half Day School after a month long semester break. We are grateful that our students have returned safely with happy faces, excited to get back to their studies with their friends and proud teachers.

            We welcomed two new students this semester, a brother and sister. Being a new student at the Half Day School can be just as challenging as it is exciting. Many of our students come to us speaking little to no Thai, the language in which all instruction is provided, and typically no previous education. Many of our students speak Burmese, Shan (Tai Yai), Akha, or Karen before learning to speak and write in Thai at the Half Day School. Lovingly, our students assist the teachers in supporting their new classmates to learn Thai in both a natural and formal manner. Once comfortable in Thai, our students quickly dive into studying the English language. English classes are offered as part of the weekly curriculum and in the evenings for students who cannot attend the HDS or would like to improve their speaking abilities through additional classes.

            This semester, the students at the Half Day School returned with a surprise waiting for them. Their former teacher and International Volunteer, Katie Crosman, came all the way from Oregon to visit. In addition to seeing a familiar face, the children began English studies with a new teacher, Kristin Moreau. DEPDC/GMS relies on volunteers like Kristin and Katie to assist with multiple areas within the organization, including the rewarding experience of teaching English and extracurricular activities to the children at the Half Day School.

Students gather together on the first day of school with their former teacher, Katie Crosman

            Please see our webpage for more information if you are interested in an international volunteer or internship position which would allow you to gain valuable experience in the areas of education, migrants and refugees, youth empowerment, and human trafficking prevention. We currently have an immediate need within the DEPDC/GMS International Department and at the Half Day School. Kindly, spread the word!

Kristin Moreau, MS, CCC-SLP

DEPDC/GMS International Volunteer

 

 

SIM Democracy’s educational workshop was a success at DEPDC/GMS! The children had a blast AND learned about what it means to be both a leader and a citizen in a democratic society. During a time when most schools are taking a short break after exams, the students here at DEPDC/GMS continue to learn and grow!

If you are unfamiliar with SIM Democracy, here is a little bit of background information. SIM Democracy is an educational board game designed to simulate a democratic society. This teaches children and young adults about how a democratic system works in a fun and creative way while encouraging problem solving skills and collaboration.

Want to learn more about SIM Democracy? Follow this link!

Shortly after arriving to school, the students gathered on the floor in the main auditorium. The team at SIM Democracy began by introducing the main elements of a democratic society in a meaningful way to the students. This involved an interactive learning approach which included encouraging the students to discuss what they already know and to think about questions they would like to have answered. As always, DEPDC/GMS provided a safe learning environment for students to ask questions and expand their knowledge in an open and friendly atmosphere.

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The students were then divided into small groups. Each group was provided step-by-step directions on how to play the game by a SIM Democracy team leader. Team leaders remained with the student groups throughout the game, providing guidance and asking thoughtful questions to enhance the children’s learning experience and encourage problem solving. The children had the opportunity to elect a leader to their country, play a variety of leadership and citizen roles, and allocate funding into four sectors: education, public health, environment, and security.

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After about an hour of playing SIM Democracy, the student groups rejoined each other to discuss what they had learned from their decisions. Students talked about what choices resulted in positive changes within their community and, in contrast, what choices resulted in decreased funding for education and health care, limited economic growth, and/or increased poverty.

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On behalf of all the students, parents, staff, and founder of DEPDC/GMS, I would like to say thank you to the all the team members who brought SIM Democracy to our school. Thank you for such a wonderful learning experience! It would be our pleasure to welcome your return to DEPDC/GMS!

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