The following links will allow you to connect with the Open World Cause:
Open World began as a senior legacy project for Buhler high school in December of 2010.
Benjamin Honeycutt, the original founder of the cause, became acquainted with Govinda Prasad Panthy through Artsnacks, an online artists’ community run by Kevin Honeycutt for the last few years. After speaking with Govinda, Ben and Kevin learned that his school (known as the SAV School in a rural region of Bageshwori, Nepal) lacked items that many would consider to be absolute necessities in education. After further discussion, he told them of his dream of bringing internet to his school. However, it soon became clear that his school’s lack of connectivity was going to make helping them a challenge. Govinda made it clear that some of the biggest issues they faced were resource-based.
With this problem in mind, the project was adopted and began seeking ways to help. After learning more from Govinda, it was discovered that it would cost around $2,000 USD to bring two laptops and a year’s worth of internet to his school. Also keeping Govinda’s dream of building a library in mind, the Open World Project set out to raise a total of $5,000 for the school. This later became known as “Phase One” for the cause.
￼Originally, Jake Waters, who is a member of the team and assists with filming, and Ben constructed a website explaining the mission of our project. They also built Facebook, Twitter, and Plurk pages to help spread the word about their goals.
After successes with spreading the story of the mission, an article done by a local paper was picked up by Associated Press. This allowed an individual named Nicolas Lal to discover the project through Google Alerts. He contacted Open World, and revealed that he had plans to travel to the school. Wanting to help in any way he could, Nicolas was able to coordinate with the cause and provide a first-hand account of the situation there. Nicolas witnessed the difficulties the school was facing and captured thousands of pictures, along with video, that he which he shared with those involved with the project. Observing the poor conditions of the school through Nicolas’ travels galvanized Open World’s determination to deliver aid to the SAV students.
Incredibly, soon after Nick’s involvement, the project experienced a major breakthrough when it caught the attention of “Powerful Learning Practice,” an educational company based in Virginia. Hoping to help the students of the SAV School, the company sent a $1,000 check to the cause. This donation sent the project above its initial $2,000 goal, and made it possible to wire the money to Govinda and the school. With the first transaction sent, the project anxiously awaited its first opportunity to contact the school.
On April 3rd, 2011, one week after the first transaction to Govinda, Open World attempted to have their first video contact with the SAV School. After two hours filled with technical difficulties, the first successful Skype conversation with the SAV School occurred. With the initial goal of the project realized, support began to flood in from around the world. The Enabling Support Foundation quickly offered some assistance and introduced the teachers of the SAV school to teachers in Pakistan and Cameroon through the school’s new connectivity. Govinda also began to develop ideas for group projects with classrooms in the United States and the rest of the world.
It was at this point that now leading co-founder, Connor Janzen, would join the cause officially after being a part of getting the laptops delivered to the school. What happened from this point until the end of the school year, was a continued effort to raise money for the school’s library. With an eventual amount of $5,000 USD raised, Open World successfully delivered a second transaction for furnishings and books that would allow the library’s construction.
This marks the introduction of “Phase Two” of our cause, the current phase, and the point at which we became the Open World Cause.
In the midst of celebration in these successes, we learned that due to difficulties in renewing one of their leases, the SAV School would be losing half of their school buildings and be forced to say goodbye to a portion of their students. Determined to find a solution to these adverse complications, Open World has developed a new mission to bring a new school to the students and faculty there. While this goal may be lofty, finding solutions to the incredible amount of problems faced in the project’s beginning, it is clear that the cause’s support group of dedicated people and businesses can help overcome these problems, too.
On December 24th, 2011 Open World had a Skype call with Govinda to solidify the details of the renewed mission. Govinda stated that the after speaking with contractors and land brokers that he had drawn up a break-down of estimated costs. Open World is currently researching the best means for meeting those needs. He noted that land prices change very often annually, and that he envisioned the new building with a playground and 14 school-rooms.
Since the inception of these new ideas, the cause has spent a large amount of time strategizing and organizing many new facets of making the mission a more global effort. In the summer of 2012, two big things happened that were integral for the cause to move forward. The first, was a renewed partnership with Open World’s non-profit sponsor. This sponsor, known as the Foundation for Leadership and Learning, revitalized donation capabilities. In July, Ben and Connor were also featured presenters at the annual Podstock conference in Wichita, KS. This conference gathers over 200 educators from around the country, and gave the cause an opportunity to present the story of the school and its partnership with Open World.
As Ben and Connor returned to the University of Kansas to resume their academic careers, they also acquired a new member and representative for Open World. Nikki Richardson, another student who is actively involved at the university as the Vice President of the KU Rugby Club became involved and provided an essential understanding for student groups on campus. In October of 2012 Ben, Connor and Nikki achieved official student organization status at the University of Kansas, where the group is currently organizing to involve people of all backgrounds, pushing forward as a more universal effort.
What Open World hopes to accomplish goes beyond laptops, internet access and a library. While they are all fantastic new facets of education at the SAV school, there is a struggle to envision how effective they will be if buildings are taken away and opportunities are destroyed. Lost classrooms turn students away and eliminates a chance to change the future for generations of students. If successful, the ultimate dream is for Open World to become a fully fledged organization that aims to help get schools connected from all around the world. To help in similar situations, collaborate on school projects, and give a new meaning to the understanding of different cultures and classrooms worldwide, the cause will continue to spread its mission in an attempt to change the world.
Thanks to all for their support and for reading,
The Open World Team