In late 2003, a group of enthusiastic students and educators came together from different points on the globe to create a unique kind of project. The idea was simple, but the process was to be demanding. Each group member would come to share not only the best of his or her unique skills, but also the diverse viewpoints of their backgrounds. Time zones ultimately faded from reality, replaced instead by focus upon a goal, a vision, and once again, the same idea that sparked it all. And what was this project? It was InterEcon, the web site you are visiting right now.
Through the cold months of early winter, Connecticut students Brad, Emily, and Brian worked fervently under guidance from Valley Regional High School teacher, Edgar, to make their contributions to the project; meanwhile, down in the land of eastern Australia (where the months were warm at the time!), Melissa --- a secondary school student --- made her own additions to the site with mentorship from seasoned ThinkQuest coach, Carol. But this is merely a summation of the project; there was much more to team dynamics, relations, and construction than presented in these few sentences. And of course, before the work began, before the meetings were held, and indeed, before the team was formed, there had to be the initial idea that launched everything that was to come…
Brad and Edgar were always close friends in the educational environment and shared one another’s viewpoints about many possible approaches in today’s society. However, they could never agree upon one thing: the direction that globalisation should be given to best promote prosperity worldwide. Coming from different backgrounds and political viewpoints, the disagreement was inevitable in many ways. Hence the topic frequently emerged in the foreign language educational environment in which Brad and Edgar were student and teacher, respectively. Papers authored by Brad suggesting one approach to globalisation were often refuted with small red-ink comments; classroom discussions on the topic occasionally became mini-debates as Brad and Edgar subtlety presented the best arguments for their respective positions. Most importantly, however, the dialog was constructive, and it challenged all students involved in a given class to think inquisitively in terms of the issue.
As Brad --- a two-time ThinkQuest participant with sites “Sighting the First” and “Of Mind and Matter” --- considered authoring a final project for the ThinkQuest program, he remembered the discussions that he had with his former teacher. Realizing the potential benefit that such constructive discourse could have if introduced to a broader audience, Brad developed the notion of a web site that would examine the economic impacts of globalisation. After inviting Edgar to be a coach for the team, Brad went in search of other team members who not only shared interest in the topic, but more importantly, felt strongly about it. Emily was the first of the other students to join. In addition to being a top student at Valley Regional High School along with Brad (the two are valedictorian and salutatorian of their class), Emily’s interest in social sciences added a particular fervor to the site’s content, a key ingredient for her role as a content writer. With Emily on board, Brad invited former ThinkQuest teammate Brian, who even before participating with Brad on “Of Mind and Matter” had lead his own team in ThinkQuest Junior 2000. Following success with both, Brian’s level of competency with layout and multimedia work became unsurpassable, making him a valuable asset for these tasks on InterEcon.
But Brian --- as with Edgar, Emily, and Brad --- also had a clear understanding of globalisation and a natural interest to discuss the topic when merited. Thus when speaking with seasoned ThinkQuest coach Carol on a day in late November, Brian found that this Australian supporter of education felt a strong sense of personal connection with globalisation as the mother of four daughters born to an increasingly competitive global environment. Suffice to say, there was little discussion when Brian suggested Carol as an assistant coach for the team --- not only was it clear that she would bring years of background knowledge on the subject having monitored globalisation for some time, but she was also someone the team knew they could trust given that she and Brad had spoken frequently since 2001. It was in that trust that the team was later introduced to Melissa, a highly dedicated student from Australia and subsequent InterEcon content writer, whose interest in global topics was recognized by Carol and thereafter shared with the entire team.
Autonomy like this was what brought the team together, bound its members to one another, and directed a vigorous work schedule that gave a sense of fulfillment to all the teammates as the project neared completion. And still further, the relationships forged in the group developed unimaginably during this time as the backgrounds of the team members extended across the world, into this project, and into each other…
Role: Graphics, Java/Flash Development, Content Contributions
Location: Essex, Connecticut, USA
School: Valley Regional High School
College: Yale University
It has always been a privilege for me to work with peers from around the globe toward a common effort; ThinkQuest 2003-2004 has been no exception. Thanks to a base of contacts that have been forged over the years, InterEcon is able to offer a rich collection of source material that not only attends to a high degree of detail, but also offers what is truly a global perspective in the spirit of group style learning.
In reviewing what my partners and I have created through InterEcon, the term “humanity” strikes a particularly solid chord. Whether in reference to team dynamics or global interactions, group attitude or international responsibility, diversity of culture is central to InterEcon both in the content it delivers and in the team it gathered to make such delivery possible. Thus while I have two successful ThinkQuest projects to my name --- Of Mind and Matter (TQ USA 2003) and Sighting the First Sense (TQ Internet Challenge 2000) --- I firmly believe that InterEcon is a project which most thoroughly cultivates the varied viewpoints of cross-cultural perspective and then presents them to the broadest audience possible: the worldwide community of the Internet.
Through my work as a high school student, I have always held ThinkQuest as an integral portion of my outside involvement; InterEcon has been particularly special in that manner. As I enter Yale this fall as a member of the Class of 2008, I hope to pursue a double-major in Computer Science and Economics, and thus I strongly believe that my work on this web site will help prepare me for a course of study in such a direction. But beyond my college plans, I will always cherish my work on InterEcon for the people with whom I was able to work. I have valued Brian’s expertise since I met him through ThinkQuest in 2000; I have admired Emily’s skill level and work ethic since we were students in elementary school; and I have appreciated the countless hours of work dedicated toward my goals by such mentors as Edgar and Carol, whether their efforts concerned ThinkQuest or other endeavors. And I cannot forget Melissa, whose enthusiastic character provided me with a broader sense of perseverance since I met her just a few months ago. Quite simply, it has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to create InterEcon, but even more of a privilege to have worked with such a talented and outgoing group of people; I could not have asked for more during my last year as a ThinkQuest student.
To my high school, thank you for four wonderful years of growth; to my team, thank you for an amazing job as a group; and to ThinkQuest, thank you for continuing this program that truly touches and changes the lives of our world’s youth.
Location: Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
School: Hunter School of the Performing Arts
College: (coming in early 2007)
As a first-time entrant in ThinkQuest, there was much that I learned by participating in this year’s contest. Although authoring content for InterEcon was a challenge, the development process was a positive experience for me, one that I feel fortunate to have had.
Yet the actual authorship of content --- while very important to the site overall --- was only a portion of what I value from entering: my fellow team members are all very talented people, and I am amazed by what they are capable of accomplishing. All of them --- Brad, Brian, Emily, Carol, and Edgar --- are also very outgoing, and it is because of this that I hope I can remain in contact with the entirety of this team in the future.
Aside from ThinkQuest, I am avidly involved in the performing arts, a trait that is emphasized by the very name of my school! But I like to be well-rounded as well and while I may have joked with my team that I would have been much more comfortable writing about globalisation as musical scores, I value the unique opportunities that I have received through ThinkQuest and through being a participant on InterEcon. Thank you, Brad, Brian, Emily, and Edgar --- and particularly, thank you, Carol, for introducing me to this wonderful program and group of people!
Role: Layout, Editing
Location: Westport, Connecticut, USA
School: Staples High School
College: (coming in late 2005 or early 2006)
Hi everyone! I'm Brian; currently a student at Staples High School in Westport, CT. I am on the track team and am president of the school Computer Club, which maintains the school's web site.
I was a finalist in ThinkQuest Junior in 2000 and won the Grand Prize in ThinkQuest 2003 for "Of Mind and Matter: The Mystery of the Human Brain" along with current team member Brad.
Working with Brad, Melissa, Emily and our coaches has been a blast; we really clicked and I hope to meet my fellow team members soon. Most of our conversations took place online, along with team chats where we frequently updated each other about progress on the site. My role in the project was front-end HTML coding, taking the variously-formatted content and developing the final website pages. After days and weeks of testing, review, and revision (which often involved the other members of the team), I am pleased to present my contribution to InterEcon and feel honored to have worked with the people behind the project!
Location: Ivoryton, Connecticut, USA
School: Valley Regional High School
College: Hamilton College
Global society has always been important to me. As long as I can remember, I have always had an interest in the way that cultures work around the world and how interactions with other cultures can affect a group’s own identity. It was because of this that I was very enthusiastic about participating in InterEcon even though I had never had experience in ThinkQuest before. But as I expected, the learning experience was incredible: I met a team of great people from different backgrounds and broadened my understanding of world economy. Ultimately, I found myself learning via a group that was at the same learning about those among it; it has truly been an amazing several weeks.
As I look ahead, I can see myself taking many of the lessons I learned through this project and extending them in other pursuits. When I enter Hamilton College this autumn, I am certain that what I have learned through InterEcon will guide me not only in my likely concentration of social sciences, but also in my understanding of global culture that mirrors the student body which Hamilton attracts.
Thank you to everyone for all you have done with this site and for the all the memories you have given me; it has truly been a pleasure to know you!
Location: Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
It is no simple task to be the mother of four daughters; thus it is particularly difficult when one serves as a ThinkQuest advisor as well. Yet this level of dedication to children is one of the many things that makes Carol such a unique person and such a valuable asset to any ThinkQuest project. Having served as a ThinkQuest coach numerous times over the past several years, Carol’s experience with guiding and motivating a team is truly unsurpassed. Her natural love of learning is contagious for all the students she works with both in and outside of ThinkQuest, and her unyielding belief that young people can change the world by interacting with one another serves as an inspiration to all who meet her. Carol resides in Newcastle, NSW, Australia where she and her husband raise their four deeply loved daughters.
Location: New London, Connecticut, USA
Edgar places truly unique meaning upon the phrase, “global perspective” --- a refugee from Uruguay during national unrest more than two decades ago, Edgar traveled to Brazil, Mexico, and other destinations before becoming a language teacher at Valley Regional in northern USA. With fluency in multiple languages so thorough that he spent a summer as a translator for the United Nations, Edgar has broad understanding about cross cultural perspective and a firm belief in the concepts of social justice and humanism. It was thanks to this broad and noble background on behalf of truly generous mentor that much of InterEcon was possible. Edgar lives in New London and, in addition to teaching at Valley Regional, is a graduate and undergraduate language professor at Connecticut College.
The team communicated regularly throughout the development process in weekly meetings via the AIM chat client (usually held on Saturdays and Sundays). Outside of these conversations, each team member worked on his or her delegated portion of the web site. Although the work was hard, the results were rewarding; and all along the way, the team members had the support of Carol and Edgar who guided the team to useful resources and provided their input on the project from time to time.
Members of the team also communicated on a more personal level with one another in individual conversations that occurred outside team meetings. Not only did these include discussions about the progress of the project, but they also served as a time when each team member could get to know one another a little bit better outside the realm of their task for the web site --- collectively, what the team members learned from one another is the truly global perspective behind InterEcon and the friendships that they will have have for years to come.
The Final Product
From the initial idea in late 2003, we --- the InterEcon team --- present the hundreds of hours that have since made that idea a reality. After long days (and longer nights!), countless pages of content (more than fifty typed, single-spaced), innumerable lines of code, and sundry other amounts of work, we offer what we have created to the Internet community. We have designed a project that aims to encourage group understanding and problem solving (via polls) of the issues surrounding globalisation, and hope that visitors like you feel better informed after visiting.
Thank you again for your visit, support, and enthusiasm for the worldwide society that lies ahead!