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11-11-2014
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Origins and mission

In 2007 we learned about a program subsidized by the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs in order to stimulate young people to be more knowledgable about developing countries and get more involved in social activities to create a better understanding of the existing problems and solutions.
The government offered a program to travel with students to experience from close by how people in far away countries tackled poverty and to see how resilient especially the young people there are, while living under much harsher conditions than students in the Netherlands.
We heartily embraced the idea and by now we are preparing for the eighth trip. So far we have visited the Philippines, Malawi, Ghana, Cambodia and Vietnam. We have focused on micro finance, child labour, the problem of girls getting too little higher education, FairTrade. We have started to be more and more interested in 'aid by trade' and are now usually working with companies that were founded with this goal as part of their mission.
We want to teach our students that the future is theirs and they can act to make the world a better place.

We are:
Karel Karsten, teacher of economics and responsible for the program.
Jaap Karsten pediatrician, employed by Doctors Without Borders
Ineke van den Berg, history teacher and counsellor
Aagje Verkerk, former English teacher and assistant principle of Maartenscollege Groningen, Netherlands.

Vision
Knowledge is a forceful weapon to shape the future. Not only your own, but directly or indirectly also that of young people in the poorer parts of the world. It is important for our students, who take health care and education for granted in the Netherlands, to learn that this is not always the case elsewhere. We also believe it to be valuable for children in the third world to learn that it is possible to achieve this situation, for girls and boys alike.

Strategy
During our stay in the countries we visit, an important part of the time is taken up by an exchange with peers at a high school. Before departing, students have already corresponded with their buddies. While visiting their buddies' school, they will attend lessons with them, teach a bit about Dutch customs, play lots of games, meet the families and go for walks to and from the school. They will compare notes as to the different lifestyles and both will be surprised.
In the villages we visit we also pay attention to local projects which aim to improve local circumstances, especially where healthcare and education are concerned.

After returning home our students will share their stories with their classmates and other youngsters, thus spreading the news of the possible solutions they have encountered and they will remain active ambassadors for years to come.


Both Sides Now projects