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Cisco Networking Academy Trains Future IT Workers in Sichuan, China By Jenny Carless

Cisco Networking Academy teaches students information and communication technology (ICT) skills through high-quality e-learning curricula, hands-on labs and online assessments. For the 800,000+ students who go through the program annually, it opens doors to new opportunities.

One place where doors are opening is in China’s Sichuan Province, the scene of an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in May 2008 that left much of the region’s infrastructure – educational and otherwise – devastated.

To help lay the groundwork for ongoing economic development, Cisco’s Connecting Sichuan, a partnership to improve the lives of people in earthquake-affected areas through technology, is working with Networking Academy to establish ICT training programs at colleges and universities throughout the province.

Together, the two have established 50 new Cisco Networking Academy sites, trained 103 new instructors and enrolled 3,700 students.

This ICT education in colleges and universities will play an important role in helping students develop stronger networking technology skills as well as in training teachers to understand ICT trends better,” says Liu Cong, director of the Educational Management Information Center, Department of Education, Sichuan Provincial Government.

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Multiculturalism thanks to TelePresence

During the last Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (May 27th-29th) the Dialogue Café Association announced the launch of its first two cafes in Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro.

Dialogue Café uses TelePresence technology from Cisco to enable face-to-face conversations between diverse groups of people from around the world so that they can share experiences, learn from each other and work together to make the world a better place.

The cafés will be connected through a global exchange that links cafés across the world to enable informal conversations as well as more structured multi-city activities such as workshops, seminars, conferences, concerts and lectures.

The first two Dialogue Cafés were opened in Rio de Janeiro at the University of Candido Mendes and in Lisbon at MUDE. Soon, Dialogue Cafés will be opened in London, Amsterdam, Florence, Toronto, Doha, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Cairo and Istanbul.

Diogo Vasconcelos, from Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group and president of Dialogue Cafe Association, reports from Rio de Janeiro on the launch of the Cafe in Brazil at the Universidade Candido Mendes, on May 27th 2010.

Watch Diego’s video in English (click read more for Portuguese).


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Guest Blog by Hital Muraj: Investing in Our Future Generation of Girls in Nairobi

On Friday 4th June, 2010, a group of ITE students from the Cisco Seed academy held a picnic at the Nairobi Arboretum. The picnic was sponsored by Ayelet Baron, Cisco Director Emerging markets. In attendance were 14 students (12 girls and two boys) from the Seed academy, two instructors from the academy and a Canadian social worker who works in the  community where the academy is situated. Apparently, house girls are often looked down upon in our society and many of them have resigned to hopelessness and feel alienated and deprived of a chance to fulfill their dreams. 

The students got a chance to interact and learn a lot from various speakers who included: Charity Jones (Cisco HR Manager), Constantine Obuya (Director, Africa centre for women in IT), Alice Muigai (Flexi Personnel Director), Himesh (Karma Foundation) and the girls got a chance to learn how to apply make up too.

The event started with a tour of the Nairobi Arboretum. The Arboretum, set in the centre of the capital of Kenya, consists of 30 hectares containing a large collection of trees and shrubs from the tropics both native and from throughout the world. It has developed from a trial arboretum at the beginning of the twentieth century to a green refuge from the bustle of the city and a place for learning about biodiversity.

The students later engaged in team building activities and played some games. The objective of the event was to motivate the girls, help them to bond and feel loved, help them to build their self confidence and help to believe that they are valuable and have a skill that is in demand.

During the picnic, the students had participatory sessions with the speakers who took them through various aspects of mentorship and soft skills’ orientation. Charity from Cisco led a discussion on how to prepare for a job interview; Alice talked to the students about the “Power of Postive Thinking” and she shared a lot of inspiring stories about Kenyan girls who are successful. This was complimented by Himesh who led the students in taking part in group activities. In one of the activities, the students were asked to express their dreams visually through diagrams and the results were simply amazing. The students were not only creative in their ideas but also exhibited a strong desire and ambition to succeed in life by having their dreams fulfilled. He also showed them a few yoga tips to help them calm down and relax.

Constantine Obuya who is the Director of ACWICT talked to the students about her life history, how she faced challenges but managed to succeed in her career and she is now studying at this age! She also spoke to them about her experience in the academy progam and how her girls are getting jobs through the program. She advised the girls to always aim high and turn any huddles in their lives into opportunities. She challenged them to take the ICT training seriously as this is a sure way to guarantee them a better future.

The students then had pizza and coke for lunch and continued to play games and bond with each other. By the end of the day – the girls had totally opened up and were talking confidently and were willing to open up and ask questions and participate actively in the sessions.

During the Q and A session, the students expressed their gratitude to Cisco for giving them such a unique chance to interact and enjoy a new and fresh atmosphere away from their usual environment. They enjoyed the pizza, which was a first time for many of them, they also loved the games they played. They were absolutely impressed with the speakers and had very good things to say about each of the speaker.

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Creating Greater Equity with Emerging Technologies in Kenya

I recently went to Nairobi, Kenya and Kigali, Rwanda to meet with some of Cisco’s employees, customers and partners.  I have a lot to share and this is the first in a series on what I learned and experienced.

I visited The Seed Institute Cisco Networking Academy on May 25th and it was a life changing experience in so many ways. Most of all it showed how emerging technologies can create opportunities by providing access to new skills. The Academy is in the Mwiki Slum in Kasarani, Nairobi and trains girls and women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is the first of its kind to train house girls and with the hope to help them get better jobs. More specifically, the goal is to train women and youth on ICT skills with two groups:

  • Housegirls: are girls who do house chores such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. They get paid up to $50 per month from which they have to feed their families, pay fees for their siblings’ education and a host of other fees. These girls are forced to drop out of school and are unable to get a university education. To get the girls to attend, Cisco and Seed leaders needed to convince the house girls’ employers to allow them to attend IT Essentials classes during the day.
  • “Hasslers:” are women who have faced many hassles including rape, sexual abuse by their own relatives; some are commercial sex workers who are trying to transform their lives. They hold regular sessions with them on job opportunities available for in the ICT field, the need to get certified and have a valuable skill that will change their lives.

These girls and women receive the opportunity to change their lives as they can transition from part of the population who does not even get counted in national statistics to being able to get a job that requires IT skills.  Rosemary Muthoni, a graduate from the Academy, managed to get placed in a workshop for computer repair two weeks after completing the coursework.

The workshop where they learn basic IT skills

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Sam Rizvi attempts to become first Indian to Ride Across America… with Cisco

We are sponsoring Indian endurance cyclist Samim Rizvi in his quest to become the first Indian to ride from West to East Coast.  The race started on Wed June 9th in Oceanside, California and ends in Annapolis, Maryland – and has to be completed in 12 days.   That said, Sam is trying to knock this off in 9…   Bay area-based blogger and journalist Kamla Bhatt spoke to Sam just before the start of the race and he explains what this race is all about, how he trained for this (riding on bumpy roads in India) and exactly why he wanted to get involved in this enterprise in the first place.  Sam is probably India’s leading endurance athlete and has run halfway across India in the past.

Listen to the podcast here:


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