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March 19, 2014

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Cleaner, Healthier, Happier

By Dan Lewis


2.5 Billion people currently do not have access to safe toilets. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program focuses on the development of tools and technologies that can lead to sustainable and marked improvements in sanitation in the developing world. Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has been selected to join the 2014 “Reinvent The Toilet Fair: India” to showcase critical health messages as part of its Cleaner, Healthier, Happier campaign designed to reach children and families across Bangladesh, India and Nigeria.

Along with the Workshop’s delegation at the fair, Sesame’s newest member of its Muppet family, Raya, a 6-year-old, fuzzy, aqua-green girl, was introduced to the world for the first time. Brian Arbogast, Director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sat down for a chat with our new friend, Raya.

Brian: Raya, it is so nice to meet you. Can you tell me why you are in India today?

Raya: Thank you. It’s nice to meet you too.  Everyone loves a fair, Mr. Brian! You say the word ‘fair’ and I’ll get there as fast as my sandals will carry me.

Brian: I noticed that you wear your sandals everywhere. Do you know why that’s important?

Raya: Of course I do, Mr. Brian! I know lots of things. I make sure to wear my sandals everywhere—especially to the latrine. Wearing my sandals helps protect me so I can stay clean and healthy.

Brian: That’s very smart, Raya.

Raya: Well, thank you. Do you want to know what else I know? I know that it is also really important to wash my hands with soap every time I use the latrine. Clean hands means healthy Raya. Healthy Raya means happy Raya. There’s nothing better than being clean, healthy and happy!

Brian: You know a lot about being healthy, Raya! It’s hard to believe you are only six years old.

Raya: Well, thank you,  Mr. Brian. You’re really nice! It’s hard to believe you aren’t furry or feathered.

Brian: Thanks, Raya. That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard in a while. And thank you so much for chatting with me today.

Raya: It’s my pleasure–very nice to talking with you too. I have to go now. Time to wash-up for dinner. See you soon. Bye!

 

This blog post originally ran at ImpatientOptimists.org

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January 28, 2014

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Celebrating the Lunar New Year

By Sesame Workshop


China is celebrating the Lunar New Year at the end of January, and Sesame Workshop is excited to celebrate too! That’s why we teamed up with China’s CCTV Children’s Channel to help produce 10 short segments called “Let’s Celebrate New Year!” to encourage children learn more about special traditions and customs, and hear legendary stories.

Each segment stars the Muppets from Sesame Street’s Big Bird Looks at the World, the Chinese version of Sesame Street, and a host from one of the many popular CCTV children’s programs. Together with Elmo and Lily, the host explains things like why dumplings are eaten at New Year’s, why it’s customary to wear red, and why it’s significant that 2014 is the Year of the Horse.  The segments will air on CCTV throughout January and February.

Sesame Workshop and CCTV had a thirty-year history of working together. In 1983, we collaborated to produce Big Bird in China, which was the first time a Sesame Street Muppet traveled to China. Now, decades later, we’re getting together, again, as we continue to educate and inspire the children of China.

To learn more about all the ways Sesame Workshop helps children in China reach their full potential, click here.

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Five Years and Counting: Hikayat Simsim is celebrating its 5th year with long-time partner Bank of Jordan

By Ghada Dahabreh


Ghada Dahabreh is the Project Coordinator for Jordan Pioneers, which co-produces Hikayat Simsim with Sesame Workshop.

Jordan Pioneers, the producers behind the Jordanian educational multimedia initiative Hikayat Simsim (based on the award-winning children’s TV series Sesame Street), is thrilled to announce the 5th consecutive partnership year with our devoted collaborator Bank of Jordan (BOJ).  The past four years have enabled Hikayat Simsim to reach Jordanian children nationwide with positive messages about financial responsibility, teaching children about spending, sharing and saving habits.  Read More

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November 26, 2013

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On Location: Promoting Healthy Habits in Papua, Indonesia

By Key Mangunsong


Key Mangunsong is the Production Head of Jalan Sesama Indonesia. She is also the director of Jalan Sesama studio and live action film segments segments.

Papua is the largest province in Indonesia located to the eastern side of the archipelago. Although this island is blessed with various mineral resources, it has the highest rate of poverty in Indonesia with the lowest income per capita for health and education.

With support dfrom Sesame Workshop and the Open Society Foundation, the Jalan Sesama team held an outreach program for promoting healthy living habits to local children and families located in the highlands of Papua. Promotional items created for supporting the program include DVDs and print media, such as posters and playing cards.  Read More

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mHealth in Action: Galli Galli Sim Sim via Mobile Phone

By Chelsea Hedquist


Chelsea Hedquist is a Senior Communications Officer with mHelath Alliance. Her article was originally published here.

Last month, my colleague and I had the unique opportunity to spend 10 days zigzagging across India from New Delhi to Hyderabad. We took planes, trains, automobiles and rickshaws – stopping in six cities in less than two weeks – on an unforgettable journey to visit the sites of several projects that the mHealth Alliance supports through our Innovation Working Group catalytic grant programRead More

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September 27, 2013

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New Season of Sesame Square Launches in Nigeria

By Graydon Gordian


Kami, Zobi and the fun and furry Muppets of Sesame Square, the Nigerian version of the beloved Sesame Street, are back with a brand new season. The show, which first debuted in May, 2011, brings critical lessons about literacy, numeracy, girls’ empowerment, and health and hygiene to young children across the West African nation.

In a country where early childhood education is scarce and diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS are all too common, the educational lessons spread throughout Nigeria by Sesame Square are crucial. This new season features a brand new animated segment,  Adventures of Kami and Big Bird, while previous seasons of Sesame Square are currently being dubbed into Hausa, the predominant language in Northern Nigeria.   Read More

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July 30, 2013

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Arigato Big Bird: Sesame Street in Japan

By Tomoko Nagano


Tomoko Nagano is Senior Editor, International Book Publishing at Sesame Workshop. She was also previously an editor with Sesame Street Magazine. 

Achieving “Big in Japan” status is an honor for select cultural icons. Sesame Street is one of them. Japanese audiences of all ages have embraced the characters for generations, so the brand is familiar to young and old, just as it is in the United States. It is also well-known because of longstanding English language learning materials, and the broadcast itself is an unintentional and unconventional way many in Japan learn English. Today, Sesame Street fans are fashionable young adults who grew up watching as children. Aiming at this audience, Japanese publisher Takarajima launched its second Sesame Street Mook (the name is a combination of “magazine” and “book”) title on July 19, 2013.  Read More

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July 01, 2013

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Let’s Get Ready! How Partnerships Enable us to Effect Change Around the World

By Anita Stewart


Anita Stewart is the Senior Vice President of Global Strategic Partnerships and Development here at Sesame Workshop.

Natural disasters affect children and families all over the world. When they happen, they are inevitably difficult and confusing, especially for young children. For years, Sesame Workshop  has developed materials for young children in their families centered around emergency preparedness for this exact reason. We can’t predict when a disaster will strike, but if children know what to do and families have a plan, the fears from being caught off-guard can be mitigated.

Children everywhere are affected by emergencies. Take, for example, the over 100 million children under the age of seven in China. That’s more than the entire population of Canada, Chile, and Spain — grown-ups included! — combined. Emergency preparedness is just as important for them as it is for children anywhere else, and to fulfill our philanthropic mission, the team here at Sesame needs to find ways to help them.  Read More

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Bangladeshi Filmmaking Program Teaches Kids to Teach us

By Kara Koch


Kara Koch is the Production Coordinator in Sesame Workshop’s International Creative department. She works on co-productions in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Israel, South Africa, and the Gulf.

Screening and dissecting videos. Writing treatments. Operating a camera, microphone, and light board. Taking written and oral exams.

You might think these are things only college students would be doing in an advanced film course, but if you are a 12-year-old kid in Bangladesh’s Rural Live Action Film Program, they are just the sort of skills you will learn to master in just a few months. Read More

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From the Street to the ‘Galli’: A Story from Sesame Workshop India

By Sara Lederman


Sara Lederman works in the International Projects group on the Workshop’s initiatives in Israel and India. She began at Sesame 3 years ago as an intern while she was a student at Barnard College. Sara will spend next year conducting research in India on a Fulbright Scholarship.

The American Street overflows with giggling faces, neighbors congregating on city stoops, and friends playing jump rope. Sunny days and furry faces fill the Street, the symbolic artery through which so much history and learning flows.

The Indian Galli (alleyway) explodes with color and pulses with a rhythmic drumbeats. A caravan of diverse faces cheers as it zooms past smiling pink and blue storefronts and a technicolor lion kicking a soccer ball. The Galli is a familiar scene, a fantastical heaven tucked away in the dense city.

Both of these streets tell stories – stories of childhood, stories of community, and stories of culture. As an intern at Sesame Workshop and an anthropology student, I wanted to explore these stories in my senior thesis.

After working at Sesame Workshop in Global Education, Research & Outreach as an intern for a year and with the encouragement of a wise mentor, I decided to apply for funding to support a summer of original ethnographic research in India. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I traded in my ninth summer at camp in Wisconsin to explore the life of Muppets on the other side of the world.

When my rickshaw rolled up to the door of Sesame Workshop India in New Delhi, it hit me: I was experiencing, firsthand, what so many people back in the New York office described as “the longest street in the world.” Sesame Workshop India, the only wholly-owned subsidiary of Sesame Workshop in the world, is a lean machine comprised of a bold, fast, sharp team. Not only does this thirty-odd person office drive the production of Galli Galli Sim Sim (the Indian co-production of Sesame Street) radio and television shows that reach over 90% of television-owning families, but they also collaborate with national early childhood education experts to organize policy-oriented advocacy. They also just recently launched a franchise of after-schools and pre-schools called Sesame Schoolhouse, the first of their kind. And if that isn’t enough, this tiny team makes serious dents in school readiness and hygiene educational needs in India, a country where, if all the children broke off and made their own country, they would be the third largest in the world.

After a few days in the office and with the help of the supportive Sesame Workshop India team, I quickly identified a feasible research plan. In 2011 Sesame Workshop India was developing a Healthy Habits radio program intended to be distributed to a number of community radio stations. This particular series was designed in installments in a way that allowed flexibility for local adaptations. When I was in Delhi they were just beginning to roll out this initiative in a sizable migrant labor community on the periphery of Gurgaon, a major satellite city of Delhi. The community radio station, Gurgaon Ki Awaaz, took the material and tailored it to the needs of its audience, playing folk music from Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh –many of the migrant laborers’ home states – and addressing issues that were specific to the community’s needs. And, taking full advantage of radio as a flexible and communicative medium, the community radio station engaged callers in conversation surrounding education, water, employment, and safety.

As I conducted interviews with mothers, kids, teachers, and radio producers it became clear to me: everyone wants to consume high-quality media that speaks to them and, perhaps even more importantly, everyone wants to speak. The Sesame material served as an inspiration for the The Galli Galli Sim Sim community radio program, which provided a safe, educational and accessible space for some of the most marginalized families in the world.

That’s a Street of which I am proud to be a part.

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