Magazine article UN Chronicle

Interning with Internet

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Interning with Internet

Article excerpt

"Next week", my Editor asked me, "do you think you could help out UN Publications on an Internet project called 'CyberSchoolBus'? They need people, and I know you have Internet experience. We'll 'loan' you to them for a week. Does it sound interesting?" It did.

Even before my internship started at the UN Chronicle, I had often "visited" the different UN Web Sites and been very impressed by the vast amount of information they contained: documents, news, conference schedules, databases and more. However, I had to admit they seemed designed more for researchers, correspondents, non-governmental organizations, diplomats, and others who had some professional interest in the United Nations. The Sites are informative, but not always much fun. Would the CyberSchoolBus be more of the same?

With some doubts in mind, I reported the following Monday to UN Publications. Mr. Abouali Farmanfarmaian, who's responsible for the project, explained that the CyberSchoolBus was an educational project for students from grades 3 to 12. "Imagine the United Nations as a vast land of resources you can travel through. You can stop on the way and pick up information on water pollution or on housing and urban problems. You can drop in at any one of the four major UN conferences. Or you can visit different UN offices and peacekeeping missions around the world. You can also take a tour of the United Nations and then stop by the bookstore to order instructional materials, charts and posters."

So far, it didn't sound much different from other UN Sites. However, once I browsed through it a bit, I saw just how exciting it was. They designed it, as Abouali put it, "to make learning fun". The CyberSchoolBus Site is a curriculum-rich environment with information, lesson plans and activities on issues of global concerns. It consists of six major parts - Global Teach-In; Special Projects; Photogallery; Bookstore; UN Tour; and UN Factfile - written in easy-to-understand language. Besides including general information about the United Nations, the Site offers interactive projects and games that get kids involved. And most are updated on a regular basis.

For example, there is one game called "Ph.Q" (Professor Photo Quiz). Each week, a picture of a world heritage site is uploaded and kids are quizzed about its location. In another project, young players participate in "building your ideal city", getting them to think about how best to deal with rapid growth, pollution, homelessness, and other urban problems. …

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