CyberFair Project ID: 3261

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Sweat Shops in the Spotlight
Category: 3. Business and Community Organizations
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: St.Mary's University Upward Bound Department
    San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

4 students, ages 15-17 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 20, 2004. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2004

Classes and Teachers: Lucinda Simon (coach), David Simon (coach), Trina, Cindy, Idali, Ru

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Dr. Jacqueline Dansby, the directory of Upward Bound Pre-College Program at St. Mary’s University, received an email one day from Ambassador Garza who is the former U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua. He inquired as to whether any of her students would be interested in participating in the Doors to Diplomacy contest. She was determined to make this opportunity available to all her students and had Lucinda Simon, her assistant, give us a presentation.

This project was presented to us one Saturday during our normal weekend class periods. Lucinda gave us some background information and basic requirements. Most people join projects because of certain incentives but we joined together as a team to do this project because we were the only ones to participate. After selecting a category picking our topic was simple. From then on we were hooked.

Our Doors to Diplomacy team consists of four people: Ruth, Cindy, Trina and Idali. Our ages range from 15 -17. Although we attend the different schools, we did manage to meet; even if our schools are rivals. We decided to divide the jobs by what interests each of us the most. Ruth was in charge of pros and cons. Cindy contributed to the construction and fun side of the web site making it user friendly. Idali handled the interviewing and located pictures to better explain the issue. Trina, the team leader, was in charge of collecting all of the information and as a group developed the web site content and design.

Our coaches, Lucinda and David Simon, were there to guide us through the process by explaining the requirements, answering questions, keeping us focused and giving technical help on building web pages. However, we knew that we were responsible for the content and building our website with only eight weeks to do it.

2. Summary of Our Project

Today we, as people, do not take the time to wonder about where our clothes come from. For all we know our clothes may be made by the designers themselves but not likely. So, who actually makes the clothes, where are they being made and at whose cost? These questions are being asked more often and have become an issue especially in America. An answer to these questions usually point towards sweat shops.

Many of today’s retail businesses are thriving partly because of cheap labor found in sweatshops. In our website the spotlight is on the sweat shops. Within our site you will learn what a sweatshop is, where diplomacy fits-in to deal with sweatshops internationally, the pros and cons of sweatshops plus some interviews expressing some personal points of view. (You need to include your group’s solution to sweatshops or at least your opinion).

After viewing the website our object is to have presented the material in such a way to leave the viewer well informed. Keep in mind that we are not here to bash the retail business but to simply inform you of the advantages and disadvantages. We leave it up to the individual to make their own opinions as to whether sweatshops are good or bad.

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:2-3

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

There were three major obstacles that were faced during this project. One of the obstacles were the time constraints. We were notified this past January about the Door to Diplomacy project leaving us with nine weeks to complete the project.

Another obstacle was scheduling. Upward Bound is a government funded organization which gives students that come from low income families an opportunity to build their college future. These students in turn have limited resources (computers, money, etc.) Many of these students participate have other activities they are involved in. To cope with this, there was a large effort made to bring the team members together in order to finish each task required.

A third barrier included the learning curve that came along with this project. Since none of the group participants had any former experience with creating web pages or using the applications needed to construct a web site, we spent many Saturdays teaching the students how to make use of these tools.

Although we had to overcome these obstacles, the students found a way to complete each task successfully and on time. As coaches, we are very proud of what they have accomplished.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our students have stated that the Doors to Diplomacy project has made them feel more involved in our community because they have had a chance to express their views on how diplomacy plays a role in the issue of sweatshops.

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

Our activities in this project allowed us to build skills needed to work as a team. As a team we learned how to gather our thoughts as a group, narrow the scope of the project, delegate individual assignments and build research skills. Although this project was not part of our school curriculum the skills that we have learned will take us confidently into our college and professional years.

Project Elements

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

We want to thank the St. Mary’s University Upward Bound Pre-College Program Department for making available to us the computers, LCD projector and software tools to complete our project. We also like to thank our coaches for showing us how to use most of the software and equipment.

The most powerful tools that we used to help us with our project were the computers, their software and the internet. Each computer had a variety of programs making the project less of a chore. Some of these programs were Microsoft Word, Microsoft Power Point, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Fireworks and the FTP Program. We used the internet to search for much of our content and to upload the web server with our web pages. An alternative information source was through personal interviews and in written questionnaires.

We also had the opportunity to give an oral presentation to Ambassador Garza who is the former U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua. The presentation was given in the Louis J. Blume Academic Library’s Audio Visual Room. There were learned how to build a presentation in PowerPoint and use the overhead LCD projector to present our web site to the ambassador.

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

Our project will raise awareness of sweatshops and inform people on the different views. Our web page may provide reference for students trying to find information and educate them in the matter as well. With people being informed and educated they will know what is going on in the world and perhaps laws can be made to improve conditions in sweatshops and stop abuse of workers. If improvements are made in sweatshops that are located in foreign countries then the United States can have better relationships with other countries and improve international relations.

As ambassadors of the Upward Bound family, we built this website in order to inform the world of certain issues that people don’t usually think about. In order to get people to think outside of the box we informed them of our website and asked for comments. The comments that we received were that they didn’t know as much as they thought they knew about sweatshops. In the future we will continue to inform others about our website and hopefully they will see the many sides of sweatshops.

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

Since we’ve been working on this project our view towards sweatshops has changed. We introduced this web site to people in our community who were surprised to learn of the different points of views about sweatshops and how diplomacy is very influential towards solving the problem. Ambassador Garza was also impressed and was glad that we presented both the good and bad points of having sweatshops. We hope that later we can introduce this to our high school class to inform them of how important sweatshops are towards international economy today but realizing that sweatshop-working conditions must be improved.

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

Although most of our team members worked hard at researching this project, we did however have some help. We would like to thank our coaches, David and Lucinda Simon, for keeping use focused, offering technical assistance while we were creating our web site and reviewing all of our material for errors. We would also like to thank Ms. Lazarin which teaches economic at our high school. Ms. Lazarin gave a greater understanding of how the economy and diplomacy are closely related. Another individual that we owe thanks to is Ambassador Garza who offered much needed constructed criticism. Lastly we would like to thank Dr. Dansby for giving us this opportunity, always motivating us and believing in us.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Throughout the website, we have researched the different world views and positions related to sweatshops. We have also presented the views towards the use of sweatshop workers in a funny way. After vigorous research and taking in all the information that we received we, as a group, have come to the decision of being against sweatshops. Although sweatshops give us the opportunity to wear the latest clothes and go out in style, it is still wrong to make someone do such things under harsh conditions. In dealing with this issue, the course of action we would take against those accused of using sweatshops to produce clothes would be a sentence of two years of community service. In addition to community service, a hefty fine should be levied against the accused company in order to prohibit such actions. The old saying is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Well, in this case the rich will end-up a little less rich. Jail time would not serve as a good punishment. You need to hit them where it hurts, in the pocket book. Although we have never mentioned a specific community service, there would however be a catch behind the sentencing. The catch is that the accused company decision makers should make the clothes themselves but for those that are less fortunate. The fine will consist of supplying money, from their pockets, to help supply what is needed in order to make these clothes. A community service sentence of two years would give them a taste of how their company has been depriving the worker through long hours, low pay and harsh and dirty conditions all for a buck. If perhaps an accused company has underage children in their workforce then their sentence should be increased to three years.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 3261)

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