CyberFair Project ID: 3327

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Margilan Silk
Category: 8. Local Music and Art Forms
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: School#8
    Margilan, Ferghana, Uzbekistan

5 students, ages 12-16 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 17, 2004. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): N/A

Classes and Teachers: Coaches: Kanoat, Mikhail; students: Dilshoda, Dildora, Shokir, Shohsanam, Malohat

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Five most active students of school#9 got together to conduct this research project because we knew from our born times that the famous Margilan silk and all the history behind it was very important for people not only of our city but the region and even the country and beyond it. Also through our work we wanted to share the learnt knowledge to all interested people who value and appreciate arts and culture and strongly believe that it can play a significant role in developing international ties which can lead to long lasting friendship and cooperation. When we got together with the close help of our class mentor and history teacher Ismoilova Kanoathon, we decided that all of us had one goal which was to create something powerful that would show the uniqueness of our city to the world and prove that it can serve as a tool to establish friendship bridge between other countries as well as in the past, present and future. Dilshoda (16), a team leader was in charge of developing the main action plan for our activities in the project framework. Shokir (15), was an active searcher in Internet for more information necessary to improve the project and create ideas for the further work. Shohsanam (13) was responsible for collecting information for the site’s section on the “History of Silk”. Dildora (12), the youngest of all was given one of the main tasks - to investigate the influence of silk to the local and international culture. Malohat (13) helped to set up interviews and made the planning for trips to the places to collect information for the project. The coach Kanoat, our history teacher helped us greatly to organize our thoughts and supported through providing necessary guidelines how to approach to the project goals. Another coach, Mikhail – the Regional Educator of the partner organization with our school, supported us technically by assisting in creating a web site and turning it into a Web Project.

2. Summary of Our Project

The web project’s main goal is to show the world community and especially young people about the impact of the local art and culture pieces to the lives of people and teach them to appreciate it. Through this project we aimed to demonstrate that although being young, we can do great things together to explore the unknown things about our own community and share it with the rest of the world. Although we mainly discuss the great Margilan Silk and its impact to the development of the uniqueness of the city and turning it to one of the main gateways for the cultural exchange in the whole country, underneath it lays the long history and creation of traditions, customs around it and its impact to the lifestyles of both local and foreign people. Each section of the web project describes Margilan silk impact to different aspects of lives of local people and how it brought them closer to the world community. The section on silk history aimed to describe the long road of a little cocoon on its way from the far away China to a small city of Uzbekistan leaving behind many other ancient places, cultures and bringing such experiences to Margilan. The section on culture shows how once silk production settled and started flourishing and how it became a reason for amazing cultural and arts activities. The section on international partnership emphasizes the developed and on-going cooperation due to the silk and how it served as a tool to promote the little cozy city’s name to the world and how its fascinating history and developing process day-to-day amazes many more people both locally and abroad. The interviews emphasize the hard work which lays behind producing one baboon of the silk thread and serve to help people to understand and appreciate the value of the art piece. Towards completion of the web project, the whole team understood that indeed this project not only brought this team members closer to the local community but also opened the doors of the community to the world!

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:less than 20

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:1

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Since our school became a finalist of the School Connectivity for Uzbekistan Program (IREX) both the students and teachers have become heavily involved with learning and exploring the advantages of IT and its use in the educational process. Although the school has a dial-up connection to Internet and considering the poor quality of phone cables, the Educational Internet Center users always try to make the best out of the provided resources.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The biggest challenge was to dig into the ideas while explaining the project ideas to people who were involved in the project outside of the group. The example can be the interviews taken from the Silk Factory employees who first were not willing to discuss openly their working conditions due to the fear a punishment from administration. But as it was a new developing concept for the project team members as well as other people involved, throughout the project all sides learnt to use and improve their critical thinking skills. Since the team aimed not only show the fascinating art of one of the ancient cities of Uzbekistan but also describe its impact to the local and world community, it was important to collect variety of information from different sources so that there would be a chance to compare them. The team members reached this goal by conducting both online and offline search successfully.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Through the whole project, our main goal was to show the fact that as young ambassadors of our country we can assist the world community in exploring the undiscovered unique features about Uzbek culture and its way towards integration with other world cultures and finding its place among them.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Since one of our coaches was a history teacher she taught us about the historical aspects of silk production and development of arts related to it. As a part of the state curriculum we need to search for information on local historical and cultural sites as an additional element of the taught subjects andthis project served well in the ways of accomplishing this task as well. Also our city schools conduct various activities on local arts, culture and history especially related with the national holiday themes. We will be using the learnt experience and materials to take an active part in such events as well, especially in approaching Navruz (Asian New Year’s Day) holiday celebrations. The project discoveries fit very well to the school and class requirements. Because we were able to organize the work not as an extra separate activity but integrate it to the general academic learning process. Also we received much experience in writing projects for other classes due to what we learnt from each project activity, for example for our English class (Internet sources and notes of the foreign tourists), Law subject (learning in-depth the rights of labor, local and foreign policies on labor force), Economics (how production plays role in developing the economy of the region/country). Such independently taken but group works help in advancing far more skills in the students rather than sitting and receiving lots of theory but not practical, analytical assignments in the classrooms. Also it helped us to realize that by taking initiative we take much responsibility but later when made efforts and reached the goal we can become role models for the rest community. Over the course of the project, we efficiently used various sources of information. Among them were Internet resources without which it would be impossible to quickly access the great volume of information from variety of sources and which proved the obvious advantage of IT over the traditional teaching.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

While working on the project, the students used variety of tools and technologies including computers, educational software (Kirill&Mefodiy Encyclopedia), Internet materials to search for materials, digital and video camera to tape the important moments of the project process, history books and old records from local Art Museum and school library. Also the students conducted the oral interviews with local silk factories on silk production, museum specialists on silks impact on local and foreign cultures, and their grandmothers and other community members on silk history legends, telephones to set up interviews and keep up the communication between team members. The cameras were donated by the students’ relatives. The computer room was established through the partner organization “Computers for Uzbekistan” Program administered by IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board) and Internet access and coach assistance (Mikhail) provided by the “School Connectivity for Uzbekistan” Program also administered by IREX. The most valuable tool during the project were the interviews and visits which became the main source for local content of the site and served as a backbone information to facilitate further ideas. The most helpful technologies were certainly the access to computers and Internet through which the students were able to receive variety information from different sources not accessible locally. Whether a tool or technology, both assisted students to explore new things about the silk impact, for example the truth behind the beautiful silk products, the long history before the first silk cocoon made it to Margilan, etc.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

The work in the project developed a strong team of enthusiastic young people who became and will continue to serve as role models not only for our school community but for the city community as well. The fact of such young group reaching so far in exploring the local arts and trying to share it with world community proves that they made a big step ahead in becoming ambassadors to represent their country knowledge with honor and just angle, and integrate other opinions as well. As part of future work on promoting the site and sharing the lessons learnt from the project, the team members plan to continue investigate the international traces of silk and what role or effect it made in other cultures. For this purpose, the students will keep trying to reach as many foreign tourists, associations who were and are interested in learning about Margilan silk. Also within the work of the Educational Internet Center based in the school through the School Connectivity Program, the students are planning to organize online forums with Uzbek and international students and discuss the arts impact on bringing nations closer. The school administration, the teachers, parents and peer students were impressed and showed much support and interest in the project participants’ work. The Silk Factory administration was also amazed on how in such a young age, the Uzbek students were eagerky trying to understand the reality of work condition not only the production and the ready materials but about the work conditions and the stories of the factory employees on the reasons that led them to become part of the factory. Impressed with the interest and enthusiasm of the students, the Silk Factory administration donates some valuable pictures related to the factory life and contacts that they have made with foreign organizations so far. Obtained information was used by the team during developing the project website.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Although the actual website has been just developed and placed in Internet, over the course of the project many more people besides the students learnt new things along with project participants. The conducted interviews at the Silk Factory with its employees were very beneficial in both ways, because the employees learnt from the students the goal of the project and once again realized the importance and uniqueness of their work on producing silk products and its relations with culture and arts. Also the students shared with them the history legends behind the silk and received their opinion on this topic. Also the school community benefited from the project greatly. One of the biggest discoveries among those were that the school community learnt that even among the students there were the ones who weave silk at home after school and this way contribute to the family budget. Not only their work has been observed but school administration understood the difficulties why such students were lacking behind academically and now are developing a plan to approach this issue. Many community members including parents, friends, neighbors and organization workers learnt the whole process of silk production, its importance in the city history and developing links with other countries through the created website. While designing the site appearance the valuable comments of volunteers of the Internet Access Training Program Center in Ferghana city has also been considered which helped to make the improvements along with the comments from the school international partner organization School Connectivity Program. Many complemented the site as a unique source of new information and suggested to add more pictures to the stories described.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Certainly such a great amount of job would not be possible to make only by students, and especially the ones who were pioneers in working on such projects and taking part in international competitions. One of the achievements of the team was being able to attract various groups of people to assist the participants during the project completion. These included but do not end only with people like: school administration who constantly supported and helped in organizing transportation for visits to the places to collect information, peer students who agreed to give interviews about their experience with the silk producing, the Silk Factory staff who was very welcoming and open in sharing ideas and contributed greatly to the content of the site, the parents who allowed to spend extra hours outside of home and free students from house chores and concentrate on project, grandmothers who shared great stories of old days related to silk. Also the team will keep trying to reach as many contacts as possible generously provided from the guestbook of the Yodgorlik Silk Factory and this way they will try to trace down how long the Margilan silk reached and how it helped to establish cooperation between people and countries. The team is also planning to fulfil the site with the information on participation of Margilan Silk products in international exhibitions and will keep trying to contact organizations such as Central Asian Craft Association (CASCA) and British Council which made special small projects on promoting and acknoledging Margilan silk.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

During the course of work on the project the team members who mainly consisted of female students (4 against 1 male) surprisingly found out that it really mattered on what gender of people work on different steps of the silk production process. The more detailed information on this can be found in the site but the discovery was that the dying process was obliged to male workers because they could concentrate better on a very little portions of fabric being dyed with this or that color and the weaving part was done mostly by women because their legs and arms can work in a high speed without frequent mistakes on the fabric pattern. Also many local people even and including the team members did not know how hard and long was the process of producing even just a silk thread let alone the whole 1 meter fabric. This discovery certainly made these people to appreciate the hard and tiresome work of the silk factory staff and value their products even more. Also the team discovered another unique side of the Margilan Silk which really makes it famous far beyond our country as well is that in addition to the hand-made process, the local weavers use only natural dyes like walnuts, certain flowers to dye the threads. The knowledge of information on that the local Silk factory receiving customers like a British Lord or a special offer from Japanese merchandisers to make kimonos from local silk also impressed the students and they were eager to learn all these great exciting stories with the international audience.


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