February 2012

Posted By John Martinka


On February 22, 2012, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda presented The Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club (BBRC) an award for our five-year effort to improve literacy in Antigua and Barbuda.

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Rotarians John Martinka and Morris Kremen from the BBRC and Jan Martinka from the Rotary Club of Kirkland Downtown (RCKD) traveled to Antigua with 14 students and two teachers from Newport High School’s Cisco Systems (Jeff Mason and Rod Thompson) and three other people as part of the BBRC’s fifth matching grant project in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Antigua (RCA). BBRC member and district 5030 governor, Steve Lingenbrink, was on the first four trips.

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Over the years we have worked to improve the literacy of the Antiguan students in all three areas of literacy, reading and writing, math and computer.

 

 

Our 2012 project featured:

DSCN1353Installing 250 computers in schools, half in new labs and half upgrades to labs installed in previous years and teaching and training the Antigua teachers on how to best maintain computers and networks.

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Distributing 1,500 illustrated dictionaries; one to every third grade student. We have not given 6,000 dictionaries to students in Antigua and Barbuda.

The RCKD was proud to be a partner to provide and install a VideoTeleconferencing system between the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. This system will allow the Ministry of Education to provide teacher training on Barbuda and the teaching of advanced classes (both of which now require a two-three hour ferry ride each way).

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RCKD member Jan Martinka led a team (Connie Thompson and Terri Lingenbrink) who gave sewing lessons in a poverty stricken area’s community center. The response was overwhelming as the students are excited to sew clothes for their families and make items they can sell. Three new sewing machines were donated, to supplement the five donated in 2009.

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America’s Foundation for Chess First Move program to teach chess as part of the second and third grade curriculum. This program has proven to increase math comprehension and thinking skills.

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Installing 250 computers in schools, half in new labs and half upgrades to labs installed in previous years and teaching and training the Antigua teachers on how to best maintain computers and networks.

DSCF7280DSCF0250

Distributing 1,500 illustrated dictionaries; one to every third grade student. We have now given 6,000 dictionaries to students in Antigua and Barbuda.

The RCKD was proud to be a partner to provide and install a VideoTeleconferencing system between the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. This system will allow the Ministry of Education to provide teacher training on Barbuda and the teaching of advanced classes (both of which now require a two-three hour ferry ride each way).

DSCN1106

RCKD member Jan Martinka led a team (Connie Thompson and Terri Lingenbrink) who gave sewing lessons in a poverty stricken area’s community center. The response was overwhelming as the students are excited to sew clothes for their families and make items they can sell. Three new sewing machines were donated, to supplement the five donated in 2009.

IMG_0475

America’s Foundation for Chess First Move program to teach chess as part of the second and third grade curriculum. This program has proven to increase math comprehension and thinking skills.

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Highlights of the Trip

  • The smiles on the students’ faces when we tell them we came from America to give them their dictionaries. We also tell them about Rotary and that it is because of Rotary that they are getting dictionaries. What a thrill! Imagine their feelings when they are told they can put their names in the book because for most of these kids this is the first book they have owned.
  • Seeing the computers being well maintained and used effectively.
  • The inquisitiveness from the local teachers as our students taught them how to better maintain computers, monitor their use and keep the networks operational.
  • The fact that the First Move has proven to increase math comprehension, strategy and thinking skills and, amazingly, caused attendance to increase on “Chess day” because the children don’t want to miss school when it’s chess time.
  • Seeing the expression and the Director of Education’s face when we unveiled the video teleconferencing system with the school in Barbuda live on the screen. It was priceless.

This $80,000 project featured two Rotary Foundation matching grants; one with the BBRC for $60,000 and one with RCKD for almost $20,000. All travel costs were paid by the participants and are not included in this amount. The funding, in addition to travel was provided by:

  • BBRC
  • RCKD
  • The Ballantine Family Fund and individual Ballantine family members
  • Rotary district 5030
  • The Mill Reef Fund
  • A matching grant from Rotary International
Meeting with the Governor General

Meeting with the Governor General
Cordel Josiah, Jan Martinka, Denise Armstong, Dame Louise Lake-Tack, Terri Lingenbrink, John Martinka, Jordan Kremen

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