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Cisco Executive Volunteers to Help Typhoon Victims

web_johnThis blog post was written by guest blogger John Baekelmans, Chief Technology Officer for Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities organization in the U.K. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, John volunteered in the Province of Samar, in the community of Daram, the Philippines, from May 1 to 17, 2014.

I am sure most of you remember the deadly Typhoon Haiyan at the end of 2013. Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6268 people in that country alone. Haiyan is also unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. As of January 2014, bodies were still being found.

I know this because I was there. In addition to my day job as CTO for Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities program, I also lead Cisco’s Europe, Middle East, and North Africa Disaster Incident Response Team and am a volunteer in the National Disaster Fast Response Rescue team called V-MED of Flanders, Belgium. Having been an officer in the Fire Brigade in Belgium gave me the opportunity to join this fast-response rescue team. I have been to many major disasters around the world in the past 10 years — in Myanmar, Haiti, Pakistan, Chile, and many other places. Haiti was the worst in devastation and personal impact, but Haiyan came close because of the level of poverty and the lack of primary needs.

Haiyan is the deadliest typhoon on record in the Philippines, killing at least 6,268 people in that country alone. Photo courtesy The Telegraph

Haiyan is the deadliest typhoon on record in the Philippines, killing at least 6,268 people there. Photo courtesy The Telegraph

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Cisco Investment in City Year Helps to Bridge Skills Gap in San Jose

Cisco has supported the communities where its employees live and work for close to 30 years.  We leverage our resources and technology to multiply individual and nonprofit efforts to improve people’s lives. One area Cisco focuses on is improving student performance in education, particularly in underserved communities. Cisco is therefore proud to partner with nonprofit City Year, a member of the AmeriCorps network. City Year recruits recent college grads who devote one year to help at-risk students stay in school.

Cisco is a national leadership sponsor of City Year and a local team sponsor in San Jose, California, the home of Cisco headquarters. Cisco funding recently supported 8 dedicated corps members at the Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Working full time for 10 months, corps members help high-risk students improve attendance, behavior, and course performance in English and math—the factors known as the early warning indicators for high school dropouts.

Happy graduation to the City Year team Cisco sponsored at Cesar Chavez Elementary School

Happy graduation to the City Year team Cisco sponsored at Cesar Chavez Elementary School

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Cisco Senior Leaders Mentor Students in STEM

This week in 9 Cisco offices around the world, 220 senior executives modeled some of Cisco’s core values by volunteering to mentor 400 students in STEM (science, technology, education and math). Cisco has been actively engaged in helping the communities in which our employees live and work since the company started in 1984. We do that by donating resources and product to global and community nonprofits and by encouraging our employees to volunteer. Cisco’s volunteer program started in 1992 and often includes matching cash grants for hours that employees work.

Cisco CEO John Chambers addresses Cisco senior leaders and 100 Girls Scouts at Cisco Headquarters in San Jose, CA

Cisco CEO John Chambers addresses Cisco senior leaders and 100 Girls Scouts at Cisco Headquarters in San Jose, California

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Cisco Employees Build Awareness about Hunger…Literally

Every year, during Cisco’s Global Hunger Relief Campaign, employee teams across our campuses design and construct “cansculptures” —  pieces of art made entirely out of canned goods (which are later donated to a local food bank), to raise awareness about hunger and our annual giving back initiative.

This year, Cisco employees in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina, and at the Kanata R&D site in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, created cansculptures, while a chalkboard artist in Boxborough, Massachusetts created a Global Hunger Relief chalk wall in the cafe.

The Lawrenceville choo-choo train delivers a coal car of food for the hungry.

The Lawrenceville choo-choo train delivers a coal car of food for the hungry.

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STEM Education Must be a Hands-on Approach

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are critical to innovation and the continued development of the U.S. economy. However, trends are showing that while there are and will continue to be plenty of jobs in these fields, many students are unprepared or lack the desire necessary for employers of the future to fill these jobs effectively.

In order to get more students interested in STEM, it is imperative that they learn through hands-on training, mentoring and demonstrations early in their education. In her latest blog, Amanda Williams, Community Relations Manager at Cisco, describes the importance of getting students physically involved in STEM to spark an interest for the future. Through the launch of the Cisco US2020 STEM mentoring initiative, Cisco employees are able work with students from various schools around the U.S. The students participate in activities such as robot building, engineering demos of circuit building, 3D printing, and pedal-a-watt to make a phone ring. Through this program, we are able to get students excited about the opportunities to learn more about STEM fields.us2020

While we still have a long road ahead of us when it comes to preparing and inspiring a future generation of STEM innovators, it’s encouraging to see students enjoying the learning process this new initiative provides. Read More »

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