Doors to Diplomacy Project ID: 6994

Close this Window

NOTE: Due to URL changes, some links may no longer be valid.

International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Migrant Children of China
Category: 2. Promotion of Peace and Democracy: Social Issues

School: Shanghai Community International School
    Shanghai, Shanghai, China

4 students, ages 14-15 worked together to complete this Doors to Diplomacy project on March 6, 2012. They have participated in Doors to Diplomacy in the following year(s): 2009,2010,2011

Classes and Teachers: Alvin C, Exilia H, Faye Y, Patrik Z, Amy B, Paul P.

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Our team consists of two boys and two girls. The four of us are Alvin, Exilia, Faye and Patrik. Alvin and Patrik are both 15 years old, while Exilia and Faye are 14 years old. We decided to join together because we believed our skills were a good mix of high-level students, and we would be able to have a good sense of teamwork. We divided our work with Faye and Patrik doing most of the writing, while Alvin would revise and edit everything. Exilia, on the other hand, handled the setting up of the website, photos, and the action page. Overall, Patrik drew two original drawings for the website, as well as customizing the theme for the website. Faye made sure everything was cited and cited correctly; she was in charge of organizing the 'Works Cited' page. She also downloaded the videos on the website. Our group communicated mainly through Skype, and we have held at least one meeting per 2 weeks to get our organization right. Although we could never put on a straight face when we met, we somehow always got to the point at the end of the meetings. Our team made some progress over time, and after each day, we would add a little more information. Alvin, however, did not do much work until the last day, since it was his custom to leave most of his work until the last day, but once he got started, he did an unbelievable amount of work that one would not expect after seeing the work he had done previously.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our Doors to Diplomacy project is all about the migrant children of China. There are a great number of children who are left behind in their own villages without their parents. The lack of parents often times causes psychological problems, leaves the children vulnerable to sexual predators, causes them to hold grudges and leaves them with heavy responsibilities. However, children that do follow their parents to cities often face discrimination there (imposed by both the Hukou system and their fellow citizens), particularly in the schooling system. Either way, migrant children that are left behind or follow their parents both often times lack much needed attention from their parents. Their parents work hard in cities just so the family survies. At times, they risk not getting paid or worse, their lives. We want to make known this issue so bigger measures would be taken to solve it. We want the vicious cycle to end.

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: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:4-6

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

Technology wasn't a big obstacle, although the firewall that China put up has caused some slight frustration. Google would work perfectly fine one minute, then completely shut us out the next. Thankfully, a member in our group had a VPN, so we could get information that we needed. We also ran into some trouble as we were trying to publish our site. Weebly had a few glitches that didn't allow us to 'verify' our accounts. We ended up copying everything from one website onto another newly-created, successfully published site. This whole process took us a few hours, resulting in all of the members of the group finally going to sleep at midnight.

Since there are lovers of technology in our group, the website design, formatting, etc. went smoothly. We also manually customized our theme to make sure it wouldn't clash with any other website design, and to match our topic.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

During the time we worked on our Doors to Diplomacy project, we faced a number of problems and several other difficulties. There were quite a few problems that we had to overcome by ourselves, such as having to get videos for our project as well as making sure the said videos were in English. Almost everyone's first reaction would be to head on over to YouTube, where any video is a quick search ahead. We, however, did not have that luxury since China decided to block a number of sites that had “incriminating “media about the Chinese government. Sites include popular ones such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Quite a few users are very savvy in the process of getting past the infamous Great Firewall of China, however, and use VPNs. A VPN (Virtually Private Network) connects the user to a server outside of the blocked zone, allowing the user to access blocked sites. Good VPN’s aren’t free, but Faye has an Astill account on her computer, allowing us to gain access to the YouTube videos now on our website. Another problem we encountered, one that took a while to surpass, was publishing. The idea was simple. We'd create our site first, and once most of the changes and ideas had been posted, we would publish it. However, we encountered a problem in which the website just wouldn't publish. This resulted in us copying and pasting our whole website onto another newly created website that worked. The copy-pasting procedure was not easy, and Weebly did not make it easy for us. Each element we had created before had to be redone after copying it over to the new site, each background re-selected, each image reposted, each font redone, and each page recreated in a painfully slow process due to the slow Chinese connection.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

'Life has no limitations, except the ones you make' - Les Brown. That was our quote in that we always keep in mind. This quote tells us that we should never give up, because the minute we do, we have lost. We believe that anything is possible if we try. This is also something that we should keep in mind when we are in school, because a bad grade might depress us, but if we work hard and believe in ourselves, we can bring it back up again. There have been many times when we have felt a bit lost, but we have always managed to break through in the end.

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

Our Doors to Diplomacy project addressed our standards in our English classes, and that was to keep our project's grammar correct the whole time. This project has fit into our English classes as an opportunity to learn more about group projects, as well as researching content. We have learnt many different skills during this span of time where we have been working on our organizational skills of content. There have been many areas such as getting everything together and writing it all out correctly in a way that doesn’t plagiarize the original writer. Our group work has improved greatly, and our level of cooperation is at a level where we can quickly finish work and move on without much delay. As of our educational system, we have found that it has been lacking in education on teamwork. Most of the time, there has always been at least one person who slacks off, but by picking our teammates ourselves, we have mostly prevented that from happening. We are glad that we have gotten this opportunity to work with students from other classes in our grade. We have also learnt that using the Internet for teaching and learning has been much more effective than traditional methods, because unlike traditional methods, the Internet allows us to communicate instantly, and checking our sources that we got so that it doesn’t clash together easily. The Internet allows us to find information much faster than if we were to find from a book. The quick beams of information helps us work fast and efficiently, but at times, the Internet might get distracting and out of hand.

Project Elements

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

In our group, all of us had one laptop computer, since our school provides each middle and high school student with a MacBook. Interestingly, all our MacBooks were from the 2009 edition. We have been using digital cameras to take our group pictures, and those cameras were quite expensive. We were lucky to have those digital cameras, since two of our group members take photography, and in photography, it is required to have a personal high-definition camera. For our communication, we simply used Skype to type to each other. Most of us in the group type faster than we can talk, so this was an advantage to us. We used various computer software in the creation of our website, and the most often used software was probably 'Photoshop CS4 Extended', since much of our design was created by ourselves. There has also been a small amount of use of newspapers, since our idea was sprung from a newspaper article. We regularly check the newspaper everyday to see if new information has sprung out that we can use. Our resources helped us in various ways as stated above, and we consider our MacBooks the most valuable tools, since if we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t have been able to create the website. We also believe that Photoshop was an invaluable asset to our technology library, since it was one of the most often used software that helped us design custom tailored pictures and backgrounds for the website.

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

We believe that our team started out as 'strangers' one to another, since we only knew about our skill levels. In the first few months after we were put together, we started to share more traits about ourselves, and soon we became accustomed to one another. We have grown to the point where we regularly talk to each other both in public and on the Internet. Each of us has different cultures, and each us respect one another's ideas, since they all vary depending on where we come from. We have also believed that an important aspect of being an 'ambassador' is to have a good attitude and to listen to one another. Although we do not have much of a future plan, we will still continue to participate in the Giving Tree and hope to help as many migrant children in China. We have also decided to touch this “hidden” topic and to the best of our skill, create a website that addresses the problem. Due to our high academic status, our influence has spread quite far around our school, and most of the students have come to know of our topic, and what to do about it.

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

The project, our Doors to Diplomacy website, as well as the Action Project we participated in, will help not only a few people, but will also raise awareness to the problems at hand. While the government has barely taken measures to change this vicious cycle, it had gone through drastic procedures to make sure no journalist, or, for that matter, anyone, can get their hands on a few photos of the actual horrendous living conditions of the children, both migrant as well as those left behind in the rotting rural countrysides abandoned after drastic industrialization of the entire country, effectively destroying the very futures of the children involved. What our project is intended for is to change all of that. Not only will we allow for people to comment on our sites in order to give us feedback, they will also be informed of the problem at hand, and how they, individually, can do their part in solving the problem. On the community, it really doesn't have any effect, if no one reads it, that is. If people read it, were informed, and understood the problems, each individual involved would help ease up the problem, and with each new helper, the problem is being solved at an exponential rate. Our website is to set the example, to show the problem, and to describe ways to help solve the problem, no matter where they are from. Divided we are nothing, together we are invincible.

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

Our parents had sponsored the Giving Tree bags, so we would like to thank them for that. However, we would especially like to give big thanks to Exilia's parents who made the time to drive us to the shopping mall for two Saturdays. They accompanied us the whole time and although let us do more of the decision making, would advice us. They advised us on the quality of certain clothing, the type of books we should get and shoe sizes. They also took us out for lunch. Ms. Brill, our English teacher, went through our websites, checking for any grammar mistakes, formatting mistakes and gave us feedback on our website as a whole. Ms. Brill was the one who introduced this project to us in the first place, and provided guidance until the end product was finished.


View our Doors to Diplomacy Project (Project ID: 6994)

Close this Window