When Tropical Storm Winston hit Fiji in February of 2016, the residents of a small village knew their homes wouldn't weather the storm. So they gathered together and fled up the mountain, taking refuge in a small cave that overlooked their town.
Standing at the mouth of that cave a year and a half later, Kwaku Aning could understand the panic that the villagers must have felt that night. As part of a United Nations mission to help tell the stories of children affected by climate change, Lausanne's Director of Learning Innovation and Instructional Design knew it was a powerful story to share.
"Hearing these kids talk about that night really drives home the need for the world to act," Kwaku explains. "With warming sea temperatures due to climate change, storms like Winston are becoming more powerful and more destructive."
That story, along with several others written by youth in Fiji, will be presented as a virtual reality (VR) experience at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change next month. Visitors will put on virtual reality headsets and hear directly from students on the front lines of climate change.
Kwaku's ability to engage students with the latest technology made him an obvious choice to help the United Nations project. Aning has been helping Lausanne's faculty use the latest tech innovations in their classrooms since 2014. As the academic advisor to the school's VR Society, he led his students to present a virtual world they created to professors at Tennessee Tech last spring. After hearing of student designers that had hacked an Xbox Kinect camera to be responsive to motion, he was instrumental in bringing them together with student dancers and musicians for a performance at LausanneFest.
"At Lausanne, we strive to provide our students with global perspectives," shares Lausanne Headmaster Stuart McCathie. "That desire crosses over to our faculty and staff, as well. From Belize to China, Lausanne works with schools and organizations around the world to improve the future of children around the globe."
Kwaku sees this experience as another way to help our students gain a broader global perspective.
"Helping the United Nations tell these stories will give teachers at Lausanne a way to experience the lives of children in other countries and develop a stronger sense of empathy for others," says Kwaku. "As an educator here at Lausanne, I'm most excited about seeing our kids' reaction to the videos. I think they're going to love it."
The videos will first be available to view at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, November 7-18. They'll be available for faculty and students at Lausanne to experience later this year. To learn more about climate change in Fiji, visit this website.
Enjoy watching the 360 videos: