PLEASANTON, Calif. – Mar 14, 2012 : Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), the global leader in standards-based unified communications (UC), today announced that Global Nomads Group (GNG) is using Polycom® RealPresence® video collaboration solutions to support “Youth Talk,” an interactive video collaboration program for students ages 14-18 that helps build increased awareness and understanding between teens in the United States and the Arab world. This is the latest joint effort by GNG and Polycom, who have been working together for 14 years to connect tens of thousands of youths globally to discuss topics ranging from the war in Iraq to the natural habitat of the Mountain Gorilla in Rwanda, resulting in increased understanding and tolerance for the world’s diverse cultures. The two organizations also recently announced another joint effort to bring UNESCO’s “Teaching Respect for All” initiative into Brazil and the U.S.
Polycom donated the infrastructure and video endpoints that make the range of GNG projects possible. As the most comprehensive software infrastructure available for universal video collaboration, the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform delivers secure video collaboration across any combination of environment (on the road, at home, at work, in conference rooms, or immersive theatres) and device (smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and office and room systems).This flexibility enables GNG to deliver a wide variety of educational and interactive programs without having to worry about the technologies at the different schools involved – such as Youth Talk, which in the 2011-2012 school year is connecting four high school pairs, including schools in Manja, Jordan and Sharon, Massachusetts. Watch the related video.
“Through our Youth Talk program, we pair schools for a year, working with teachers in many countries to help break down stereotypes and stigmas,” said Chris Plutte, executive director of Global Nomads Group. “Polycom video enables us to take kids places they could never go otherwise, as flying across the world is just not a feasible option. This year, young people in the U.S. are meeting face-to-face via Polycom video with their peers in classrooms around the world, including Jordan. It’s a life changing experience for students in the program.”
Many GNG programs give teenagers a close-up view of remote locations and extreme conditions. For example, the Polycom RealPresence Platform enabled GNG to take U.S. students on a live visit to the border of Chad and Sudan where American teens connected with children who were living in refugee camps due to the Darfur conflict.
“The vivid, impactful experiences we’re able to share with children via Polycom video collaboration are incredible,” said Plutte. “We even linked kids in U.S. classrooms to the natural habitat of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. We literally trekked up a volcano with a guide from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and were talking live with kids in the U.S. The students were remotely experiencing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat and were asking questions of a renowned expert. Thanks to Polycom, time and distance are no longer barriers to learning or knowledge sharing.”
In addition to its student programs, GNG relies on Polycom video collaboration in its day-to-day operations. GNG uses HD video to collaborate with ministries of education, teachers, donors, and partners. In fact, Plutte said his organization has come to “expect” visual communications because it offers a much richer and more personal experience.
Plutte said GNG is now rolling out Polycom® RealPresence® Mobile on the organization’s tablets. He expects it to be “a game changer” for GNG. “We have an iPad — it costs a few hundred bucks — and we’re able to go into schools that don’t have computers or even electricity and implement our programs. We see RealPresence Mobile as changing everything for us. We can extend our programs to any place where we can get a wireless signal.”
He added, “On a December 2011 trip in Rwanda, we were out on the street with tablets doing video conferences with our New York office. It was one of those moments when I had chills because I realized that this was going to change the way young people communicate. We have our best tool yet to create trust and understanding through peer-to-peer and group visual communication.”