1. Description of Our Community
Uzbekistan is a desert area located in central Asia, just north of Afghanistan. It gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The two largest populations are ethnic Uzbeks (80%) and Russians (5%). Most Uzbeks are Muslim. Tashkent is the capital city, approximately 2.4 million people live here. Both Uzbek and Russian are common languages in Tashkent. Uzbekistan is a developing country-- in the cities people earn an average of $50 a month, and much of the countryside uses a barter system (source: Mayhem, 2000).
Soon after Uzbekistan gained its independence, United Nations volunteers came. Tashkent International School (TIS) was started to provide students an American-based education. In 1995 TIS became an independent school. We have 135 students in grades K-12, from 18 countries.
2. Summary of Our Project
This project showcases organizations that help people in Uzbekistan. Prior to Uzbekistan's independence gained in 1991, there were no such organizations as "Doctors Without Borders" and "Red Cross" which provide humanitarian help to people. The Soviet government provided these services out of its own pocket. Health care and education, for example, were totally free of charge. Housing was provided to workers, and there were programs for veterans, orphans and handicapped people.
Today a lot of changes are taking place, which has caused a change in the social support of the government to its people. The weak economy and declining industries added to the different economic policies of the newly independent Uzbekistan. Businesses and organizations are forming to provide aid.
Students in grades 4-12 explored how people are working in businesses and organizations to care for people in Uzbekistan. Because very few people in Uzbekistan have internet access, it is not our goal to reach locals through our finished Web site, but instead through our research. We especially want to reach people living outside of Uzbekistan.
We began our project by listing the ways people care, and then categorizing the ideas. Each class worked with their English teacher to choose and learn about one or two organizations. We made a timeline and began researching, writing and interviewing. We visited places such as a deaf school and an orphanage, and we had visitors come to our school. We searched and critiqued Web sites with our computer teacher and assistant, and we also worked on creating the Web site in computer class.
Now we are answering these project description and project narrative questions together. We look forward to sharing our Web site at our school's annual general meeting, and we'll continue to tell people in the global community about it through e-mail.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Our first challenge was deciding which organizations to showcase. Once we started listing ideas we had a lot of choices and we had different interests. Next, CyberFair was new for most students and teachers, and this was the first time we've participated in a collaborative project involving multiple classes. The teachers involved met weekly to organize the project. Also, creating a Web site was difficult for us. Our computer teachers, Mrs. Thomas and Andrew, spent a lot of time helping us. Andrew helped us with the design, too.
Another problem was language. Reading and writing English was hard because many of us speak English as a second (or third) language. We read out loud a lot and helped each other edit. Interviewing was difficult because many of us do not speak and understand Russian and Uzbek. Students and teachers who do helped translate. Arranging interviews was difficult because technologies and communications aren’t developed here. The mail system isn’t developed, most people don’t have telephones, and there are no telephone books. Taking pictures was a problem because at some places the organizations did not want us to take pictures, so instead we drew pictures.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
We are amazed that doctors and people from other countries are sacrificing their time and energy without getting paid a large salary to help people in our community.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our CyberFair project supported our school’s values, and it taught skills in many areas of our curriculum. It complimented our Language Arts, Social Studies and Computer curriculum especially well. Our project also provided opportunities for enrichment.
Teamwork and respect are two of the values that our school encourages. Teamwork was seen throughout this project. We worked together with our classmates, students in other grades, families and community members. Respect is demonstrated as we share an appreciation for Uzbek culture.
In Language Arts, we used writing strategies (prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading and publishing) and writing skills (grammar, mechanics and usage, and spelling and vocabulary). We also used study and research skills (choosing sources, comparing information across sources, formulating questions, interviewing, making and using a timeline, and using a variety of resource materials).
In Social Studies we used reference skills (using the community as a resource, selecting and using appropriate resources, and using a computer to run reference software) and map skills. We also used thinking skills (summarizing information and synthesizing information) and interpersonal skills (accepting and giving constructive feedback and developing respect for others). It is also part of our social studies curriculum to learn about Uzbekistan.
In Computers we learned how to use digital cameras and a scanner, critique Web sites, use HTML and design Web pages.
Our CyberFair project also provided opportunities for enrichment. We learned techniques for photography, communication skills for interviewing and we were given the opportunity to collaborate with other classes.