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GCE MyCOE Youth TechCamps-- Guidelines for International Students

Learn more about online mapping and geographic technologies! Use them to help YOUR community and environment! Experience a deeper understanding about different places and cultures of the world!!



What is this program all about?

Outstanding students in the United States, Bolivia, Panama and South Africa will be selected to form TechCamp teams. These teams will collaborate online and in person at one of three rounds of training events in these countries to address the theme of GeoTechnologies for Climate Change & Environment. If selected, you will be given academic preparation, orientation, mentoring and training in the use of geotechnologies such as online mapping, community GIS, mobile GPS, and crowd mapping, and will participate in cultural exchange activities. Youth work will be featured in an online project fair and showcased at national venues.  

Learn more details in this overview description here.

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Who is eligible?

Applicants from Bolivia, Panama and South Africa must:
1) Have legal citizenship in their home country
2) Be currently high school students over the age of 15 by June 1, 2014 and no older than 18 years old by September 1, 2014.
3) Be currently residing in your home country

Please note that should be attending at least one semester of high school after the exchange program, in other words you will still be in secondary school in the Fall of 2014, so typically you should apply no later than your junior year of high school.

The official language of this program is English, so all participants must have sufficient proficiency in English to participate fully in all exchange activities.

Following the US State Department's guidelines, you are ineligible if you have previously traveled on any Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs funded program within the past 3 years, or are family members of employees of the State Department or staff of any of the organizations working with the program partners.

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Is speaking English a requirement?

Yes. The official language of this program is English, so all participants must have sufficient proficiency in English to participate fully in all exchange activities. 

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How do I apply? 

We use a completely online electronic application system. The form will include questions about you and your experience and provide you the opportunity to submit an essay to describe why you are interested in participating. Please note that recommendations from teachers or mentors will be mandatory as part of the application process.



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How are participants selected?

Participants will be chosen according to the following criteria:

  • demonstrate an interest in working with students in the United States
  • demonstrate an interest and familiarity with geographic technology
  • demonstrate leadership aptitude and service to the community
  • demonstrate academic excellence
  • exhibit creativity, flexibility, maturity, integrity, good social skills, and open-mindedness
  • have the motivation necessary to be active and successful exchange participants

Priority is given to qualified students with fewer opportunities to participate in programs of this nature due to underpriviledged status. A review committee will assess all applications after the deadline and finalists will be selected for an interview by phone or Skype. The AAG will recommend to the State Department a final list of participants and alternates for approval by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  

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Where are the tech camps and how will I get there?

In Bolivia, we will work with our partner, the Instituto de Investigaciones Geográficas (IIGEO) at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz. Lodging is available in nearby dormitories and campus housing. 

In Panama, we will partner with the renowned educational NGO, Fundación Gabriel Lewis Galindo.  The TechCamp venue will be held tentatively at the City of Knowledge, an academic-industrial park with high tech classrooms in the former Canal Zone area, Fort Clayton. Various lodging options are located next to or within this zone.

In South Africa, AAG will partner with EIS-Africa in Pretoria The TechCamp will be hosted at a location to be announced where field excursions will be available and lodging is on site.

Eight (8) chaperones (totaling 13 adults) will form the core of administrative support at each camp. These individuals will be present throughout the TechCamp to provide continuity and supervision. Chaperones will ensure that the youth participants arrive and depart from each destination safely and on-time, and supervise the youth while in their accommodations and throughout the entire camp period. Youth participants will have adult supervision during all activities and travel.


Host orientations for local participants will be arranged as a half-day meeting to be held on the morning of the launch day of the TechCamp, and will include a welcome, orientation about the program, and basic cultural exchange discussions. The U.S. Embassy will be invited to participate in this welcome orientation in the host country and stay for the formal opening of the TechCamps.


Travel for host country youth who do not live in the TechCamp cities will be coordinated in advance, typically by ground transportation. Parents may deliver students to the camp-lodging site, or if traveling by domestic bus or rail, program adults will meet students at the appropriate depot or station.

All youth participants from the host country will also stay in the camp lodging. While some participants may reside in the same city where workshops will be held, they will be housed together in order to maintain the TechCamp group for the duration of the event, and avoid disruptions such as traffic rush hour, or other circumstances of daily commutes.

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What will I learn about?

The program's learning objectives are threefold: First, you will increase knowledge about climate change and the environment, particularly how the impacts of climate change are being anticipated and experienced in developing regions.

Secondly, you will improve technology skills with online mapping, project collaboration, problem-solving and communication. By the end of the program, you will have better awareness and familiarity with online geographic technology tools and their specific uses and applications in your assigned country, as well as of how online mapping is used on a global scale for addressing various anticipated consequences of climate change. You will also have developed a specific process and step-by-step action plan on how to use online mapping technology to solve a problem in your community, working together as a team with other students.

Finally, you will increase understanding, including greater appreciation of cultural differences, as well as development of leadership attitudes, both explicitly with respect to particular lesson material, but also implicitly because of the team learning approach. You will be able to relate your project to what others are doing to solve similar issues and demonstrate an understanding of how your project can be utilized as a model for other problems at the local, national, or global level.

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What is expected of me if I am chosen?

If you are chosen among the international students, you will work with our team to learn how to use geographic technologies for climate change themes and implement a community project in collaboration with counterparts at one of the international program sites.  You will need to have regular access to internet and be able to respond throughout the duration of the program beginning with online orientation in Spring of 2014.  You will also need to get a passport, attend the TechCamp in the Summer of 2014, and finalize a project together with your team using online collaboration technologies during the Fall of 2014.  Our team of instructors and mentors will guide you throughout the process.  For a timeline of activities, please refer to this page.

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How will the program help prepare me with orientation?

After selection, participants will be asked to prepare very short video introductions of themselves for posting and sharing across the groups. Guidelines and a model introduction will be provided as support to format, content, and length.  These introductions will populate a GoogleSites wiki that will be used throughout the entire program period and the exercise will also help you become familiar with its use.

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What will the TechCamps be like?

Each TechCamp will consist of a ten-day, intensive and stimulating, content-rich agenda. The agenda is a daily mix of engaging TechTalks, or brief interactive presentations with Q&A sessions on thematic content; of TechHands sessions giving instruction in technology and tools, whether conducted in the computer lab, or in the field; and TechConnect timeslots for discussion, role playing, practical collaboration training and team-building exercises. The closing session will take the format of a TechTorrent, where the teams will give visual presentations to each other and to invited media, embassy staff, and other community stakeholders. The schedule includes community, cultural, social, and civic activities in balance to the intensive technology training part of the program. Students will keep a personal journal throughout the camp for reflection purposes and to amplify learning potential.

Activities include fun team-building exercises, such as simulated community projects to support the development of collaboration skills and seed discussions. Activities are organized for different groupings of students for each session, so that students can work with different individuals at various points during the week. This will allow you to engage with as many international students as possible. A reflection mapping exercise will be conducted as a way to explore further cultural differences as well as to offer training in field data and GPS collection.  A weekend break includes optional community serving mapping activities. Towards the latter days of the camp, you will receive help with communication and presentation skills, including how to communicate with maps and visuals, to prepare for the closing TechTorrent sessions. These final sessions will summarize project activities, prepare your teams for the return home, and consolidate plans for the team community service projects that will be finalized in Fall of 2014.  US embassies, local stakeholders, dignitaries, and other interested attendees will be invited to see your final presentations.

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How will I collaborate on the international team projects?

During the TechCamps you will learn how to use a free online platform to help organize tasks and communicate with your international team members around your project blueprint. You will use this tool to continue to work with and finalize your community projects.  Our staff and host partners will continue to virtually mentor you and teammates throughout this process and may even find additional expertise if your project needs it.  Teams will utilize the long-standing MyCOE model to 1) ask a question related to how their communities experience climate change related to subthemes; 2) observe or collect data, particularly spatial data, crowd sourced data, or other specific input determined during the camp; 3) present and analyze the information with web-based mapping applications; 4) draw conclusions about the results and its meaning for their communities, including positive and negative aspects; and 5) take action by engaging community leaders and/or their schools around their project. Commenting and collaboration around project results across the multiple international sites will be facilitated by our reporting platform.  An Online Project Fair will showcase your work. By the end of 2014, each team will be expected and guided to develop a report of their work in a semi-standardized format along with an abstract, a showcase map (or map animation), and at least one photograph of the group members working in action.  The projects will be included in the MyCOE Youth Leadership Gallery, and also be showcased to broad audiences at international events.
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Who is organizing this?

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) has been organizing educational, scientific, and professional programs for more than 100 years.  This GCE MyCOE Youth TechCamps program is implemented by AAG with funding from the US State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Youth Programs Division under the Global Connections and Exchange Program and under the partnership umbrella of My Community, Our Earth: Geographic Learning for Sustainable Development. Learn more about the US and international organizations offering this program and meet the team putting it all together.

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What happens when?

The deadline for international student applications is February 1, 2014.  Notifications will be made as soon as possible to all selected and nonselected applicants, typically within 4 to 6 weeks. Please also see this calendar page for a timeline of the entire program.

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What if I have other questions?

We are happy to answer any further questions and welcome inquiries by email to

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