How Montclair students birthed a global network to help schools in Tanzania
By ERIN ROLL
Two years ago, Amir Doctry and his students in the Global Citizens class at Renaissance at Rand Middle School began a unique project.
Known as G.L.E.A.N., the Global Learning Exchange of All Nations, the project is a partnership of schools and students representing nine countries who work together to provide help to schools in Tanzania and get to know each other in the process.
And with G.L.E.A.N. now receiving aid from UNICEF, Doctry said the group hopes to accomplish even more than it has so far.
G.L.E.A.N. got its start in 2019 when Doctry took a trip to Tanzania. He visited a local school and got to know some of its students. The school did not have a lot of items that Montclair youngsters take for granted, so Doctry decided to start a project with his students to help it out.
In the process, they got to know students in Japan, Belarus, Vietnam and several other countries. They began speaking to each other on a regular basis in real time, which often required some inventive scheduling due to time-zone differences around the world.
So far, the project includes schools in nine countries: the United States, Vietnam, Belarus, Russia, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Japan and Croatia.
The American branch of G.L.E.A.N. consists only of a small group of students from Montclair, Doctry said. He hopes more schools, both in Montclair and across the country, will join.
In the years since its inception, G.L.E.A.N.’s work has grown. A collection project for Books for Africa resulted in 592 boxes of books being gathered and shipped, and a poster project created and collected educational posters, such as times tables, graphs and charts, for the school in Tanzania.
This year, one of the main projects is the VR Tanzania Project. Its goal is to raise money to help the school get access to virtual reality equipment and lessons.
Another project in the works is the Best Practices 360 channel, in which teachers and administrators can use virtual reality to “visit” different classrooms around the world, observe teachers and classes at work, and provide recommendations and feedback.
The group has just started partnering with UNICEF, which will be providing aid and support to some of its projects.
G.L.E.A.N. will be holding an awards ceremony and fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 5.
Students participating in the group have been making videos about its mission. The best video will be chosen by a student vote and will be posted on G.L.E.A.N.’s YouTube channel for the public to see.
Once the channel has more than 1,000 subscribers, Doctry said they will be able to start using the channel as a source of income, since channels with more than 1,000 subscribers can be monetized.
The Feb. 5 event will include speakers from UNICEF and Books for Africa.
Members of the community can buy tickets through G.L.E.A.N.’s designated ticketing page, and can also make a financial donation to G.L.E.A.N.’s Books for Africa project.