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First Annual Ekal Youth Conference 2009
The First Annual Ekal Youth Conference 2009 was held on 19th September at Rockville, MD in conjunction with the Ekal Annual National Conference. The theme of the youth conference was “Bringing Tomorrow into Today’s Choices”. The conference emphasized engaging the youth volunteers with innovative ideas to strengthen Ekal Foundation’s vision for village development, education, and civic empowerment. This is the first time when the youth volunteers of Ekal Foundation had come together to share and discuss their working prototypes to enable better prospects for Ekal activities. The conference highlighted the passion and zeal of the youth to undertake responsibility of educating children in tribal India. It was indeed a gratifying and learning experience for approximately 200 people who attended this youth conference.
The conference was inaugurated by Mr. Charles D. Regan, Vice President & General Manager, National Geographic Maps. In his motivational speech, Charles Regan mentioned the possibility of a liaison between village schools in India and the schools in USA with guidance from National Geographic. He also appreciated Ekal for forming a wonderful network of volunteers and grass-root work force. He drew attention to the issue of 'training the trainers' to sustain the future grass root activities. Further, he also enumerated on the importance of evaluation and assessment to highlight the impact of Ekal activities on the village development The statistics from these studies can be used for regular performance evaluation.
The main feature of the conference was the presentation of research ideas and projects undertaken by several youth volunteers. Presentations included a) how to implement web based social networking tools for Ekal activities, b) map based visualization techniques for Ekal schools, c) creating a media library repository, d) health care impact assessment of Ekal villages, e) a novel idea of rendering professional services to fund Ekal schools, f) promoting a new alphabet slate for developing motor skills of the Ekal students in the village school to learn alphabets easily.
In conclusion the impact of the youth leadership was appreciated , promoted and acknowledged by the organizers. Plans to host similar conference in 2010 are under review, details will be released soon. The abstracts of the papers presented in the conference are available on the website – www.ekaldc.org/eyc2009.