Narod Institute Links 30 Schools Around the World

GLENDALE–The Narod Institute announced the launch of the Narod Network Project 1999–the novel Internet-based educational program linking Armenian students around the world.

Launched on October 19–NNP ’99 melds technology and "edutainment" activities to bring schools from Armenian Diasporan communities worldwide and Armenia together to learn and have fun.

Through especially designed activities–students reach out to their peers to collaborate on exercises–research sites and publish their work on-line.

NNP ’99 comes at the heels of the NNP ’98 pilot and is a second experiment which will precede a large scale roll-out.

While NNP ’98 successfully linked 10 schools from five countries (Armenia–Lebanon–North America–Canada–and France)–NNP ’99 has evolved to connect 30 schools from eight countries–with the addition of Cyprus–Australia and Argentina.

"The Narod Network Project is a model for linking Diaspora and homeland for a mutually beneficial collaboration. Students and educators gain access both to educational material and to the cultural realities of their colleagues across the world with whom they actively collaborate," said Marie Lou Papazian–Director of the Narod Institute.

"I think that this aspect is what generates so much excitement around the Narod Network Project–and ultimately what makes it so much fun," she added.

NNP ’99 consists of three successive activities respectively entitled Networks–People and Places–which will take place during the course of the 1998-1999 school year.

"Networks" introduces students to the World Wide Web–training them on Internet-based research as well as Web publishing and e-mail in Armenian. "People" builds on these skills allowing students to exchange information about themselves and their communities by playing the "Identity Game."Places" focuses on collaboration at a distance–having students cooperate in building an interactive map of global Armenian information resources–and publishing it as a Web site.

For public viewing–NNP ’99 can be accessed through the Narod Institute Web site at www.narod.org. Visitors can browse through the activities and exercises–can take a look at NNP ’98 results or the work in progress of NNP ’99 and even participate informally–in some of the challenging Internet search exercises with Armenian themes.

Also available at the newly expanded Narod Institute site is a wealth of other resources such as the "Open Forum" where visitors can find out about Armenian students video conferencing over the Internet–the "Storyweb" with a large number of illustrated stories–and the "Resource Center" which contains a growing database of Armenian schools worldwide.

"The Narod Network Project and the Institute’s Web Site represent a mutually beneficial collaboration and a learning network in the new information age between the Diaspora and Armenia. They form a bridge that provides more than financial and humanitarian resources: it builds a global community of Armenian schools that complement each other’s needs and contributes to a new paradigm in Diaspora-Armenia cooperation," said Papazian.

NNP ’99 is being sponsored in part by its parent organization–the Ani and Narod Memorial Fund–with the vital support of the Manougian-Simone Foundation as well as the Armenian Relief Society of North America–the Armenian National Education Committee of the Armenian Prelacy–Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Tufenkian and other sponsors.

The Narod Network Project is assisted by an international network of volunteers and advisors. The special technological challenges faced by participating schools in Armenia are met through creative technical and logistical solutions made possible by the Armenian Freenet and the United Nations Development Program–Arminco Global Telecommunications in Yerevan and the Information Analysis Center GITAK in Gumri. In addition–the Ministry of Education is spearheading the logistical support and coordination for the 11 participating schools in Yerevan and Gumri.

The Narod Institute is currently exploring possible partnerships with other NGOs in order to develop programs for the expansion of the Narod Network Project to the year 2000 to include younger students and a broader base of participants in non-Armenian public and private schools.

"Based on the feedback that we’ve been getting–we believe that our schools are ready to adopt educational technology to complement their existing curriculums. The support from educators and students has been overwhelming. However–the success of this education technology initiative will depend on strong commitment and long term support," said Papazian.

The Narod Institute is a program subsidiary of the Ani & Narod Memorial Fund–a non-profit organization established in 1994 in the memory of Ani Ardhaldjian and her 2 year old daughter Narod. Headquartered in New York–ANMF is dedicated to helping Armenian women and children live happier and fuller lives. The Narod Institute’s primary mission is geared towards improving the educational contexts of young Armenia’s and helping them share their Armenian cultural heritage. Since its inception–it has implemented educational projects such as the premiere of "Sesame Street" in Armenia–the opening of the Narod Ardhaldjian Children’s Library in Beirut–Lebanon–in cooperation with the Armenian Relief Cross of Lebanon–and the development of a series of creative and inspiring educational materials–such as Armenian Alphabet posters and children’s calendars. All donations and/or inquiries should be directed to ANMF–PO Box 8131–New York–NY 10150 or via e-mail at ANMF@aol.com.

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