To Inspire People

Creating a Tolerant and Understanding Global Society

Auckland (NZ), May 2009 - (by Richard Rowland) The One World Foundation was set up with the aim of bringing the cultures of the world closer together, especially for young people. The mission statement says that it seeks to create an infectious desire to learn more about other cultures and lifestyles among the people of the world and to allow them to help each other in this learning process.

In achieving our stated goal of trying to inspire people to find out more, an important element of the project, and one that may create social change, is that learning can be fun and also that, with modern technology, learners - through interactivity - can be part of their own learning process.

Learning is not the same as - and must be kept separate from - being taught, even if a teacher is involved as a guide or facilitator.

Learning is about asking why and having the chance to find the answers. The project will provide some of these answers but also pose tantalising questions for the audience to follow up. The website,, in various developmental forms, has been on line for five years, while a related website,, became a stand-alone entity earlier this year.

Last month, people from over eighty countries spent some time on our site, with over half a million hits last year - and this is all during our trial period. So far, we have made visits through our base country of New Zealand and three Pacific Islands, while work done by children in Poland and Australia is also on the site.

Our aim is for kids to share their ordinary life with others: things that are important to them and which make up their own culture. The enthusiasm for sharing we have experienced in our early work in the Pacific island has shown us that the Internet is a fantastic medium with which to achieve our aim.

The websites have two main ways in which they can be used. First, for our own input from our journeys around the world can be followed. By always having the same travellers, people who join us can begin to feel like "friends" with those writing the site. They will come to know the particular likes and dislikes of the writers.

Second, the website will allow people to input their experiences and life in their country, but in a structured way so that comparisons can be made and people can actually identify with these people. In other words, we are trying to celebrate, not denigrate, our differences. In the words of a song by the late John Denver, "There's a man who is my brother, I just don't know his name, but I know his home and family because I know we feel the same." Our site can help identify that brother and show his lifestyle to a wider world.

Last year we moved the "Teddy" content of our site to a new one for very young children. We wanted them to have something more appealing, clearer, and easier to navigate. We wanted to write materials that would inspire very young people to find out more about the world and to model to them inquisitive learning.

However, we were not sure how we could introduce our very young readers to important values and concepts such as tolerance, understanding, and social justice. We now believe we have managed to achieve it - or rather Teddy, our mascot, has managed to do it in his blogs. We show them cultural diversity in an interesting way, with separate sections on people, looks and clothing, food, etc.

It is important in any form of cultural exchange that it be just that; an exchange, not a replacement. I think both the One World website and Teddy's World Wide Home will achieve this.

The cultures of remote tribal people are just as important - if not more so - to preserve than those of what is known as the "developed" world. We must take care that in bringing a way in which we can improve communication for these people, we do not swamp them with our own culture.

We believe that by facilitating children to be part of this and allowing them to help others understand their culture, we will be helping them to see how important that culture is. They are the ones who must take it forward, and we hope our work will go some way to preserving the varied richness of our cultural heritage globally whilst creating a more knowledgeable, tolerant, and understanding global society.