Even when you have a terrific job and work for a wonderful company, not every day will feel special. But recently, I had one of those special days. In fact, it was a really great day.
I was in Beijing, China to participate in an event to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of the Intel® Learn Program, and to announce that the program has now reached more than one million young learners worldwide.
For those of you not familiar with the program, let me provide some basics. Intel Learn was created to provide underserved youth developing countries with the opportunity to acquire skills that can help them succeed in a knowledge economy. When we developed Learn, we knew that it had to be more than just a technology program. Intel Learn does teach technology literacy skills, but also helps youth acquire skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. Intel Learn targets underserved youth between the ages of 8-18. It’s an informal education program, delivered in community technology centers, typically as an after-school program. In a number of locations, Intel Learn reaches kids who are not fortunate enough to participate in school.
One of the unique features of the program is the thematic curriculum. Intel® Learn: Technology and Community, one of three Intel Learn courses, is designed to help children explore and think about issues in their communities, and how they can address those issues. As part of the program design, youth work in teams to create projects around issues of their choice, then showcase their projects to adults in the community. This empowers them to be full participants in their communities, and can help them on a path to be productive and successful citizens. Let me give an example:
For years, the streets in Nanjing, China, had been contaminated by smelly liquid garbage leaking from collection trucks, resulting in ongoing environmental and health problems. One team of Intel Learn participants decided to focus on that issue as their project. They did research to understand why the trucks leaked, researched regulations regarding garbage collection, and come up with several solutions, such as altering the garbage trucks with simple plastic pipes to prevent spills.
As part of the Learn program design, the children held a public showcase to turn the spotlight on the problem, presenting their findings to 200 parents, local government officials, educators, and other community members, including the media. About a short month later, they received good news: Among other measures taken to address the problem, the local government’s environmental sanitation department decided to alter all of Nanjing’s garbage trucks in accordance with the Intel Learn team’s suggestions.
In each of the thirteen countries where the Intel Learn program is delivered, there are similar stories. Learn participants are gaining new skills, and demonstrating how to use those skills for the good of their communities. And that’s why, sitting in the auditorium in Beijing, listening to the youth talk about some of their projects, I couldn’t help but think to myself that these kids have a great future, that I have a wonderful job, and that I am so fortunate to for a company that believes in supporting a program like Intel Learn. We’ve reached more than one million young people just like the ones who presented in Beijing, and we’re just getting started. It felt like a really great day.