Family finances were running low. School grades were not exceptionally high. Facing the pressures of accumulating bills and tuition fees, Gianisse Marie Adamantopoulos (better known as Gigi), together with her passion for music, took a leap of faith and applied to be a Microsoft Student Partner.
Music and technology just didn’t seem to tie in, but Gigi refused to give in. She surprised Microsoft Philippines interviewers as she presented the missing link, winning for herself an internship which helped cover her education fees.
Be inspired by other equally amazing youth and find out more about Microsoft YouthSpark programmes.
This is part of a series highlighting the valuable work that Microsoft’s Community Affairs Managers are doing in Asia. This piece was contributed by Nikolay Premyanov and Jason Jun Sik Eum, two student interns who spent time with the Microsoft Area HQ Citizenship team in July 2013.
Janakie Karunaratne has been at Microsoft Sri Lanka for more than seven years fulfilling her role as Community Affairs Manager with enthusiasm and dedication. Initially, Janakie worked in sales at a telco, but ever since she started managing Microsoft’s social initiatives she has never looked back, finding her role fulfilling and important. In her own words, “We are one people – all of us have a responsibility to care for and share information between each other, therefore a large firm like Microsoft, through its corporate citizenship programme, has the responsibility to pro-actively share its immense knowledge among the community in order to improve lives.”
Janakie manages projects all over Sri Lanka, in cooperation with the government, other private sector companies, or Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) – and sometimes all three. One of her main initiatives is setting up workshops that teach information technology (IT) skills to young people, raising their employability and giving them opportunities to fulfill their ambitions, changing not only their own lives, but also their family’s lives as well.
Sri Lanka has suffered through a long civil war that recently ended and there is much rebuilding to do; not only physical but also the mental rebuilding of young people. To help in this sphere, Microsoft Sri Lanka cooperates with HSBC to empower young adults who have been affected by the war to help them become the leaders of the future, as well as providing them with the means to rebuild their lives.
The company is helping NGOs run their own social initiatives by providing them with up to date IT solutions and the means by which they can improve their services to people in need. This provides a huge benefit to NGOs and serves to show the importance of IT to any organization in modern times. One such initiative is the work done with Sri Lanka’s foreign employment bureau to teach important skills to workers leaving to other countries, which improves their employability and makes them more likely to send back money to Sri Lanka, further improving their family’s lives.
According to Janakie, the most successful initiative has been GAMATA IT; Sinhalese for ‘IT for the village’. This is a programme that aims to bring technology to remote villages and teach the local populations how to use IT, giving them the power to improve their own lives. This programme is run in conjunction with the ministry of education, an NGO and 2 private sector firms. This is one of the largest initiatives supported by Microsoft Sri Lanka, touching the lives of many.
It is this aspect that Janakie finds the most enjoyable and fulfilling in her job: touching the lives of many and making a real difference in communities. Even if she never meets the individuals personally, she knows that the work she and Microsoft are doing will improve opportunities across the country. The work provides the right amount of challenge coupled with the need for her to think of ideas and solutions that the company can implement to continue reaching members of the community. In her eyes, a perfect job.
There is a new movement thundering through hospitals in South Korea. It all began when Microsoft Korea, in collaboration with the Korean Institute of the Disabled for Independent Living, held the “Kinect® Contest for People with Severe Disabilities” to provide people with disabilities, most of whom are wheelchair-bound, with the opportunity to use the Xbox 360 with a Kinect sensor to enjoy sports games they had never thought to be able to play.
Since then, this initiative has begun to make inroads into hospitals as well. On 22 and 23 December 2011 the Korea Citizenship team, in partnership with social workers from two of the biggest hospitals in South Korea, organized a Kinect-themed event, which was open to patients within the rehabilitation wards in these two hospitals. Approximately 60 patients participated and had the opportunity to experience Kinect-themed games. This initiative is significant, as it dispels the notion that technological accessibility cannot play a part in a patient’s rehabilitation process.
According to the social workers that were present, the inception of technology during the rehabilitation process of patients actually motivated them to overcome their diseases, as it gave them an opportunity not to dwell on their current situation, which in turn offered them hope for the future.
On a global scale, Kinect has been used in hospitals as a therapeutic tool to aid medical rehabilitation. In Korea, there will be ongoing efforts to organize similar Kinect-themed events and there are hopes of expanding this initiative to nationally recognized events such as the National Disabled Day in April.
“Physical therapists have reported that they are currently using Kinect as a therapeutic tool in hospitals, and Kinect has been an invaluable tool for the patients in rehabilitation,” said Ms Hoon Hee Park, Rehabilitation Ward Social Worker, Shinchon Severance Hospital.
The Korean Citizenship team and social workers helping out at the hospital.
A young patient trying her hand out at the Kinect game with the help of a social worker.
“Physical therapists have reported that they are currently using Kinect as a therapeutic tool in hospitals, and Kinect has been an invaluable tool for the patients in rehabilitation.” - Ms Hoon Hee Park, Rehabilitation Ward Social Worker, Shinchon Severance Hospital
This blog has been posted by Clair Deevy, Citizenship Lead, Microsoft Asia Pacific
There are 1.2 billion young people on our planet today, with projections of 1.5 billion young people by 2035. Many of them are doing amazing things. They are innovating, they are inspiring and they are driving real impact.
As the Microsoft Citizenship Lead I have seen firsthand just how amazing young people can be. We can learn a lot from their work, their energy and their passion. Microsoft can provide the access to the technology, but we want to hear from them directly on the best way we can support what they care about – that is how Innovate4Good@Microsoft was born. The first of six Innovate4Good events held around the world was in Seattle, and the second was held earlier this month in Cairo. We are delighted to be hosting the APAC event in Singapore on April 28 and 29. After Singapore, hundreds more youth will participate in similar conversations in Brussels, Beijing and Mexico City.
This event is a platform for youth to speak and meet with Asian visionaries and thought leaders. More than 100 great young minds from around the region will participate in an open dialogue, discussing technology’s role in bridging the growing opportunity divide, an increasing gap between those who have access, not only to technology, but to a good education and the skills and connections needed to be successful – and those who do not.
Working with Microsoft’s technology these young leaders and their communities will be empowered to build successful futures and bring positive change to their homes. From fun collaborative debates on a range of issues, to listening to inspirational youth peers and finding ways to realize personal future goals, we will be providing the participants hands-on time with Microsoft’s latest technology.
This is the start of an online global community and I hope participants will find a place where young people around the world can come together, collaborate, inspire and support each other.
For Microsoft, investing in using technology to make the world a better place is part of who we are. Innovate4Good@Microsoft is just one of the ways Microsoft is sparking conversations to identify how technology and other investments can help bridge the opportunity divide for youth around the world. We have a lot to learn from young people – I am thrilled to be part of the excitement!
Join the conversation at our online Twitter community at Innovate4Good@Microsoft.
Dream it. Learn it. Live it.
This article was written by Heather Mansfield, founder of Nonprofit Tech 2.0 (Bio) (LinkedIn), author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits and owner of DIOSA Communications.
Many nonprofits rush into creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites without understanding that some of the decisions made during the set-up process will impact your social media campaigns for years to come. There are some basic steps that need to be made to both protect your nonprofit’s brand on the Social Web and to lay a solid foundation upon which to build your nonprofit’s presence.
Step 1: Create a unique email address for your social networking accounts.
The first step is creating an email address to be used solely for creating and managing your nonprofit’s accounts on social networking sites. Since staff turnover is a reality of professional life, having a staff person use their personal work email address to create the accounts is not a best practice. At some point when they leave your organization all the accounts will have to be handed over to a new staff person and all email logins modified, so it’s best to set up the accounts correctly from the beginning.
Named one of the Top 50 Websites of 2012 by TIME Magazine, Outlook.com is a new Web-based email client that also includes access to SkyDrive (a cloud-based file-hosting service) and a suite of Office Web Apps (Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote) – all for free. To get started, create a Microsoft account. During the process you’ll be prompted to create a new Outlook.com email address. If possible, your new email address should be the same as your nonprofit’s website URL, such as email@example.com. Once you have created your new Microsoft account, you will then be given instant access to your new Outlook.com email address:
Step 2: Create a social media dashboard.
Logging in and navigating multiple social networks daily can be time consuming and most nonprofits have limited time to dedicate to social media. Save yourself 10-20 minutes a day by taking a few minutes now to organize your desktop. In Internet Explorer you can easily drag and drop any website into the navigation bar atop the browser, which then allows easy access to your nonprofit’s social networking communities. If you have opted to stay logged into Facebook, Twitter and other sites, then you do not have to log in individually each time you click on any given social network you have featured in your navigation bar: Step 3: Create a Master Login Spreadsheet
As the Social Web becomes more integrated into nonprofit communications and fundraising strategies, it’s likely that you will have five, 10 or even 20 separate logins to maintain and remember. To keep the process as simple and organized as possible – and to avoid the very common problem in which a volunteer, intern or staff person leaves an organization abruptly and takes with them the institutional memory of your social network logins – it’s a best practice to organize your logins in one Excel spreadsheet. To do so in Outlook.com, in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, click on the down arrow and select the “SkyDrive” pop-down > SkyDrive > Excel:
Next, create the following columns in the Excel document: Website Name, Email Address, Password, URL and Date Created:
Then each time you create a new community on the Social Web, enter the login information into your new Master Login Spreadsheet. Ensure that at least one person at your organization other than the social media manager has access to this Outlook.com > SkyDrive > Excel document. This ensures that your login history is secure, stored and easily accessible anytime, anywhere since the data is stored in the cloud.
Getting organized on the Social Web is a critical step that many social media managers skip altogether. Investing the time - up front - to organize yourself and store your passwords in the cloud will save you hours of time and prevent some big headaches down the line.
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