Let's Talk about Creative Alternative Economies

Suzanne Stormon's Explorations of Creative Alternatives

Archive for the tag “education”

The Joy of Training

I got to do one of my favorite things on Thursday.  I was in front of the classroom again, teaching about collaboration and watching faces light up and laugh as they discovered what they could do with simple, free, cloud based Google Docs and Blogger applications.  I love teaching and training when I can get the whole class interacting and coming out with some new skill or insight.

I designed Collaborating with Google Docs and Blogger as a highly flexible class. My high school students used it to create some glitzy presentations about the French Revolution and my middle school students used Blogger for jazzy Roaring Twenties blogs that included videos and music. They loved it.

This time I taught the class to adults in ProNet, a volunteer organization I belong to.  ProNet is an organization that helps unemployed professionals get back to work by providing job search and skill enhancing “graduate classes”.  The day to day business of ProNet is carried on by volunteer committees and I knew that these volunteers were looking for ways to do committee work and group communications online. They also wanted share their resumes and cover letters for peer review. During the class they learned how to post documents, share them, make comments, create shared documents, and create committee blogs.  We even created a Blogger blog to record what we’re doing with this new knowledge.

By the time we finished the class they were commenting on each other’s resumes, posting committee minutes and projects. Just for fun, we also created a collection of frugal luxuries that make our lives in transition a little more comfortable.

If you’d like to participate in a class like this and know an organization in the Truckee Meadows that would like to sponsor or host it, I can customize it to your needs. Contact me and we’ll see what we can set up.


Lives’ of Cambodian Girls

After receiving some questions on the lives of the girls in my last post, I’ve done some research and find that thousands of girls in Cambodia are one step away from a life none of us would want for ourselves or our children.  Many of them already have taken that step. Cambodia is an extremely poor country that was devastated by the deindustrialization, back-to-the-country movement forced on Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge. The new government is trying to rebuild but they have a long way to go. Girls, who have never been highly valued in the country, pay a heavy price for the joint condition of being poor and female.

My last post talked about keeping 28 girls in school.  Drops in the bucket, but each one of these girls represent the condition of many of the girls in the country.  They are victims of abuse or are rescued sex workers.  Over 30% of the people in the large sex industry in Cambodia are under 18 and the vast majority of them are girls.  Most of these girls have been kept out of school by their parent’s poverty and isolation.  The Cambodian government “guarantees” public school through secondary education (9th grade), but the system is decentralized so poor rural schools are inadequate.  Teachers are often paid only $10.00 per month, so they often start their own tutoring service or work in private schools. If the best education is for pay, in poor areas, it is the boys who go to these schoolsGirls are kept home to work in the fields or find a job to help support the family.  Many families are tricked into sending their daughters off for “good jobs” when their real destination is sexual slavery.

Rape is often the entry-level crime that leads the victims into the sex industry.  In Cambodia, a girl’s virginity is highly valued. Rape brings shame and stigma to a girl, making it more likely that parents will send the girl away or consent to their child leaving home for one of these “good jobs”.  Once out of school and the family’s sight, the terrible exploitation begins.

Non-profits and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are aware of these conditions and are attempting to enhance the life chances of girls in this society. The Cambodian Center for Children’s Rights, which was featured in last week’s post, runs several shelters and schools. There, girls who have been exploited are identified and rescued, are rehabilitated through academic and life skills training, and are reintegrated back into society with the hope of a better life.

Here are some links for more information:




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