Updated: Apr 10, 2021
By Jo Gibson - Director / Education Architect: FreshAz Education Ltd, NZ. It's fascinating how the fine threads in life connect. The New Silk Road is at the heart of one of our latest focus points - with Masterton, Greytown and Auckland at its core - partnering with Singapore and the Philippines. The approach? To develop an online, conversational English learning capacity - to impact a depth that'll be life changing, for cultures galore. Cultures, within all 65 countries along that Silk Road will duly be invited to join us. Some are already in touch - lessons have begun and National Geographic themselves are partnering alongside with us. It's an absolutely gorgeous journey! While 'Phase 1' (2017-2020) was quite the eye opener as to just 'who' makes for the ideal 'partner' enroute - 'Phase 2' (2021...) is proving that when like minds get to partner, what evolves is worth losing sleep over! All timezone interactions considered...
Most fascinating of all, is how the reality of educational pathways, led to this - 20 years on from its key onset. Weaving its way first into Brunei to set up Jerudong International School, with a team from NZ, Australia and the UK, saw the journey begin - albeit completely unaware of what lay ahead. Catering for High Commission kids heading offshore, saw online learning and teaching English as an other language seriously take off. It was merely 1997 online.
'Nek Minit' when coaxed into Wellington, a huge MoE based eLearning R&D initiative followed and so too a DEANZ Award, within 10 years. Early in that journey, the scope to travel into 8 countries, within 8 weeks - to work as the teacher 'on site' for the 8 offshore families I had at the time, open the door to experiencing the first of the 'Silk Road' reality. Entering such countries as Tajikistan and Kazakhstan was breathtaking - but little did the journey then - know that more was in store...
Of stunning proportions, and a few weeks after 9/11, landing in Tajikistan switched the light on for what's incredibly relate-able to today's journey. Coping with the impact thereafter, duly led to the formation of FreshAz Education (enroute a rebrand), in 2006.
The first contract with NZ's MoE, was to develop the National Plan for eLearning in Primary. The seriousness of this reality, for us, witnessed some serious clarity. But still, we'd hardly broken through the surface of what was ahead.
Moving the clock on a little - online education and teaching English online went to another level, veering off with Refugee and Migrant teens in NZ, for 9 years. Contracts merging ol' school styles with IT for University lectures and graduates deepened the depth from there on. While continuing with a team of primary students, to maintain a walk-the-talk ethos, there was also one educational leadership role after another scored - one in particular featuring a huge role within the Samaritan's Purse charity sector - and the international awareness edge that was factored in. Much around how accessible technology was, no matter what the slum, remote village, or refugee camp. But all was an unknown 'plan' leading to where our educational focus sits today.
Despite several spirals of adversity enroute, it's most intriguing how the enormity of this all panned out regardless. A few blinks later, it's full circle with Tajikistan for instance back in the picture; but even more so. Stepping onto Kazakhstan was a hint of how extreme life can be - but a desire to help didn't expect to get so close to home.
Partnering with Filipinos, Singaporean's and NZers - take off mode is all go. But it's early days - we're recruiting far and wide. Having scored time in Singapore and IloIlo, Philippines, prior to Covid-19's reality, a new NZ company's been formed - is recruiting, training, merging educational philosophies and so on with our partners in turn. 'Tis awesome times - watch this space!