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Dear Parents,

We are proud of your student for considering applying to the MyCOE GCE TechCamps program.  We share their desire to make a difference around the world and enhance leadership through knowledge and technology. Our vision with this program is to provide opportunities for youth to learn more about online geotechnologies such as web mapping and other techniques, and how to apply their knowledge and skills in service of their communities, while gaining a deeper understanding about different places and cultures of the world. 

We encourage you to read through the FAQs here written to provide answers to the most common questions students have.  In addition, below is some additional information to demonstrate the care taken in the design of the program to provide a safe, secure, and effective learning environment for your student.

Adult Supervision and Monitoring: Each TechCamp will have 3 US facilitators and 2 assigned local host facilitators.  In addition, 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 for the 10 US students and 30 local youth, or 40 participants in all. 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.  All camp staff will be thoroughly briefed on their roles and on safety procedures. Local chaperones are recruited in close coordination with the host partner institutions and involve closely associated or known individuals.  Adults are chosen because of their mentoring ability and experience working with high school aged youth.  All adults are vetted with the respective embassy and/or the ECA Bureau at the Department of State prior to finalization of service.

Communication:  After the youth participants are selected, we will schedule a Logistical Overview and Parent / Teacher Program Orientation.  This will be in the form of a webinar meeting in the Spring of 2014 to brief US participants and their parents about logistical and practical issues for travel and to address any additional questions you may have. During orientation, all youth participants will be guided in safe practices for online communication as well as international / domestic travel safety.  The collaboration sites used will be private to participants and program related staff only by password access.  During the camp itself, we will inform parents of selected participants about how they can communicate with their students during several periods of time throughout the week in country, as well as how to communicate in cases of emergency.

Travel and Safety:  Special and specific travel tips will be provided according to the characteristics of each host site. All adults, vendors, and service providers will be vetted to the US Embassy and/or ECA, and will be chosen on the basis of recommendations and referrals of known partners. At least one staff member at each event will have training in first aid / emergencies. Orientation for adult facilitators includes location and contact information for police and medical services closest to the events. Tourist police will be notified of the arrival of the group, and local units alerted for group outings. US participants will travel from the US Gateway Orientation cities together with AAG facilitation staff to the host country. During the TechCamps, each participant and staff will be issued a Photo ID with emergency contact information to wear at all times. When traveling at group outings, vehicles will clearly be identified with the program through signage or other means and staff will wear clothing (such as program T-shirts) to be readily identified by participants. All staff will carry working cell phones with call minutes and programmed key contact numbers. Facilitators will provide day-to-day monitoring of the participants’ well-being, preventing and dealing with any misunderstandings or adjustment issues that may arise in a timely manner.  A written set of procedures for maintaining safety and security will be circulated to all individuals. All participant contact information gathered on behalf of this program will be made available to the Department of State and the local embassy for safety and security purposes.

Insurance:  The US Department of State provides a health insurance policy to all traveling US participants. The Bureau’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) is a self-funded, limited health care benefit plan designed to pay covered medical expenses for eligible exchange participants. Covered medical expenses are subject to limitation, and pre-existing conditions are not covered. Coverage is limited to illness and medical emergencies, not routine health care coverage. If a participant has their own health care policy that they would like to use for this program the ASPE health benefits program becomes secondary. The AAG also has additional program-wide participant travel insurance. Details and enrollment will be provided to selected participants.

Cost:  This program is sponsored by the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by the Association of American Geographers.  The program provides all necessary participation costs, including passport and visa fees, travel, meals, and training.  While there may be some cost for personal items, phone calls, souvenirs, or other optional material, this will be minor and not a required part of your student's participation.

Learning Opportunity:  In an increasingly globalized society, it is important for young people to engage with international experiences at an early opportunity.  The AAG's programs are rigorously evaluated, and past GCE efforts demonstrate that fully 100% of participating teachers / facilitators who responded to the evaluation agreed that the program improved their students’ knowledge and critical thinking abilities about the themes.  Previous MyCOE programs funded by the US Department of State successfully engendered international collaboration, with 100% of 2010 mentors and students expressing that they would continue to participate in a MyCOE collaborative learning network after that program ended.  Finally, gaining additional employable skills in geographic technologies and geography gives your student a head start on career preparation.  Learn more about careers in geography through our extensive set of resources online.

 

Questions? We welcome further questions and inquiries to mycoe@aag.org.

 

 

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