New UNICEF initiative enables children in developing countries with a way of sharing their stories with the world…
“Not every would-be storyteller has access to a major publisher; some, in fact, have close to nothing. So, Young people from around the world will be able to record and share their stories online in various languages thanks to a new project launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), technology giant Google and the non-profit organization One Laptop per Child.”
Google, UNICEF, and One Laptop per Child (OLPC), have teamed up to launch the “Our Stories” initiative, aimed at giving children around the world an opportunity to record personal stories, using laptops, cell phones, and other devices.
Children will be able to record stories about themselves, their families and friends in their local dialects using laptops, mobile phones and other recording devices.
These stories will be shared globally through the “Our Stories” website, (www.ourstories.org) where they can be found on a Google Map, UNICEF said.
“UNICEF’s in-country communications teams are working with the schools using OLPC laptops, and also with children using other recording devices, computers, and mobile phones to preserve and share stories online,” explained Stephen Cho on the Official Google Blog.
“An enthusiastic team of Google volunteers, including me, developed the laptop application, the interview guides based on the work of StoryCorps, and the website.”
“By making these stories accessible around the world, the “Our Stories” project hopes to contribute to a better understanding of our shared humanity across countries and cultures, across religious traditions, across languages, and across generations.”
“Information technologies can help young people around the world learn more about each other,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Our Stories will promote dialogue across borders and cultures and give young people a voice on a wide range of issues.”
“Low-cost XO laptops by One Laptop per Child will serve as a foundation to help build this digital archive of personal stories by providing children in developing countries with easy-to-use technology to record their stories and interviews.”
“The XO laptop is a tool for sharing and collaboration and this project is a great way to build a global community,” said Walter Bender, President of Software and Content/COO, One Laptop per Child.
“Also, as you will see upon listening to them, the stories stream through the YouTube player.”
The Our Stories website will initially include stories collected by Brazil’s Museum of the Person and stories recorded for UNICEF by young people in Ghana, Pakistan, Tanzania and Uganda.
It said that more stories from more countries would be added to the site every month in an effort to preserve an oral history of humanity in the 21st Century.
A list of prominent figures have already recorded stories for the site, including Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan and UNICEF Eminent Advocate for Children; and Ishmael Beah, UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War.
Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Global Communications and Public Affairs for Google, hailed the new project, which he hoped “will not just encourage better storytelling but better listening to stories.”
UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, HIV and AIDS.
UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit organization created by Nicholas Negroponte and others from the MIT Media Laboratories.
It designs, manufactures and distributes laptops which are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education.
These XO laptops are reportedly rugged, open source, and so energy efficient that they can be powered by a child manually.
Influence for the project was taken from StoryCorps, an NPR project that has been recording stories across the US. “StoryCorps is proud to lend its experience in recording the conversations of nearly 30,000 Americans to this global undertaking,” said StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay. “These efforts teach us that the lives of everyone--whether they are in New York or Nairobi--matter, and that they will not be forgotten.”
Fair Warning: These stories are not guaranteed to be universally interesting, and due to language barriers (storytellers speak in their native tongues), it is unlikely that many people will even be able to understand every story. Still, Our Stories should create a remarkable historical record of what is going on in the world around us at this point in time.
Something like 75 audio recordings are already available through the Our Stories site, and according to a FAQ section, many more may be added in the near future.
“At a later stage, people of all ages from around the world will be able to add their own stories to the site.”
“In the coming years, we hope to capture and share millions of stories, which we believe will help to preserve a truly global, multi-lingual history of humanity in the 21st century” Google’s Cho said in a statement.
“We also hope that, in some small measure, the ability to listen to the voices of others, to hear first hand about their hopes and challenges, contributes to a better understanding of our shared humanity across the many lines which often divide us.”
“The first batches come from Brazil, Ghana, Pakistan, Tanzania and Uganda.”