pic-1Sister Kristin Hokanson, Principal, Notre Dame Virtual School: The Notre Dame Virtual School, which was founded in 2001, was inspired by St. Julie’s quote: “In the schools teach whatever is necessary for life.”  In today’s world, a solid understanding of technology and how to use technological resources is absolutely necessary for life.   The virtual school continues to update its mission by educating students and Sisters with the latest trends in technology. NDVS uses technology to further the Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in new and diverse ways in their schools. A special focus of the virtual school is Digital Citizenship, and NDVS uses the resources of the International Society of Technology in Education to implement the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship organized by the principles of respect, educate, and protect.

Each week, NDVS sends a mailing to schools with a wide variety of resources on technology, prayer and liturgy, and Catholic social teaching.  A prominent focus this year is the Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations.  Each month a Global Goal is selected as a focus, and resources are available on Notre Dame Online.

NDVS networks the Notre Dame Schools through a variety of ways which includewordpress-1 videoconferencing, coordinating web exchanges, using social media, professional development and participating in Notre Dame sponsored conferences.  Through this networking, schools and sponsored ministries share with each other the ways in which they live the Notre Dame charism, and a virtual community is created.                            2016 GPS Participants

wordpress-2Notre Dame Virtual School has assisted Notre Dame Academy (NDA) in Worcester, Massachusetts with the coordination of two special programs: the Global Perspective Studies (GPS) program and the Digital Citizenship programs. Through the World Language Department, GPS offers NDA students an opportunity to expand their knowledge of world cultures. The aspects of this program are: world language study, connection with other Notre Dame schools foreign and domestic, cultural contact, curriculum integration, service, travel, and a summative portfolio/reflection. Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate upon graduation, which is noted on the final transcript.

NDA’s Digital Citizenship Program is required of all first-year students and teaches the worldpress-3nine elements of digital citizenship: Access, Commerce, Communication, Etiquette, Law, Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Wellness, and Security.  Students learn detailed issues in technology that are important for them to be global citizens.  At the completion of the program, students earn a Digital Citizenship Certificate, demonstrating competency in the appropriate and responsible use of technology.  Some students also go on to earn their Digital Citizenship Driver’s License, which indicates an advanced level of knowledge about these important issues.

Through both of these program, NDA Worcester and NDVS prepare students to become more aware of the challenges of our constantly evolving world.





By Sister Eileen Burns, Executive Director, NDEC-L: In 1996, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur established Notre Dame Education Center-Lawrence (NDEC-L) on the former St. Mary’s High School site. Today 7 Sisters minister at NDEC-L with 6 more on our corporation and board of directors.

At the Center, Low-income, under educated adults are empowered to improve and enrich


Sr. Kathleen Murphy with students

their lives and the lives of their families in an environment that is welcoming, respectful and dignified. Through access to quality direct services, collaboration, and advocacy for positive change, NDEC provides goal-oriented education, skills
training, language and literacy development, enrichment opportunities and support services.


newsletter-5NDEC assists and supports adult learners to achieve their next steps and reach their full potential as productive, contributing workers in the community and in society. Over the last 20 years, NDEC-L has provided nearly 7,000 adults, mostly immigrants, with English language classes, job skills training, high school equivalency test preparation, citizenship classes, and assistance to become U.S. citizens. Center programs make a difference in the lives of new immigrants and Lawrence residents by providing adult learners with the life skills needed to support better employment, a stable and consistent family life, and a commitment to the neighborhood community.


NdianefoRoseBy Rose Ndianefo, SNDdeN: Notre Dame Medical Centre in Amoyo, Nigeria, provides antenatal care and delivery and child welfare services, including the following: counseling on the benefit of exclusive breast feeding; education on proper nutrition for pregnant women and children under the age of five; nutritional supplements for pregnant women and children; health education on malaria and Hepatitis B prevention, tests, and immunization programme for infants; vaccination of children and adults against Hepatitis B and meningitis; treatment for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, urinary tract infection, malaria, typhoid fever, and many more as the situation arises. Staffed by doctors, nurses, midwives, Community Health Extension Workers, and laboratory technicians, the Centre serves about 230 women, 200 infants and children under the age of five, and 350 teenagers and adults, including orphaned and vulnerable children.


16-00019f_Website-banners-300x100During a 2014 online consultation regarding Sustainable Development Goals, the number one priority across all 9,000,000 respondents was a good education. Now, in preparation for a UN Conference in South Korea at the end of May, another global consultation has begun. Contribute your ideas about education for global citizenship: (choose your language) and access the draft action agenda for the Conference:


Alla BaranovskayaBy Alla Baranovskaya, Intern in SNDatUN Office

Piracy off the coast of Somalia is not a very common topic for discussion for United Nations headquarters. However, it was very interesting to hear what organizations and governments had to share about the situation in the country. The piracy problem might remind us primarily of older times, stories that we have read in books and have seen in historical movies. For developing countries, taking Somalia as an example, the problem is still present nowadays. An important topic was discussed during a recent UN meeting: Somalia’s government needs to enforce the laws regarding fishing and sailing on the water territories of the country. While there are no strict laws in the country, whatever happens on a water territory can not be controlled. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Trust Fund, and other panel participants mentioned that Somalia needs some support from the governments of more developed countries who have already overcome that piracy problem. There are a lot of ways to control the majority of boats in the open sea. FAO shared an example of transparent boats that helped to solve a piracy problem in Italy. Another way of controlling the boats can be implemented if all the fishing partners in Somalia and surrounding countries report their boats so that most of the activities in the water can be tracked by high forces.

PiracyAnother great and powerful thought I have is that piracy is a crime and yet it is easy to commit. It only requires a few things: a boat, weapons, and a group of people. Young kids of Somalia who do not have a proper education can and will consider this type of income if their country’s conditions allow. Therefore, Somalia’s goal should be focused on not letting the conditions actually arise. Young kids are very vulnerable and they adjust quickly. Besides parents’ influence, a big part of their life knowledge will depend on what they see around themselves outside of their homes. If the rules are strict enough, most likely those kids will not want to give it a chance trying to cross legal boundaries. If piracy is, however, not controlled by strict government regulations, kids will not see a bad outcome of these actions, and, consequently, will most likely get involved in giving it a try to become pirates.

Watch a press conference by the contact group on piracy off the coast of Somalia:


Fatima BrimahBy Fatima Brimah, Intern in SNDatUN Office

On 9-10 July 2015, an international conference on Ebola recovery was held at the United Nations. In attendance were representatives from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. They enlightened us about the effects of the outbreak and their journey to recovery. Most importantly, they pleaded with all private sectors, NGOs, and humanitarian sectors to help with funds to help them fully recover from the Ebola crisis.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has become one of the largest global health crisis in recent history with over 27,000 cases and 11,000 plus lives lost in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, impacting individuals,  families, and communities. The majority of Ebola victims are between the ages of 15 and 45, so basically most households have lost one or more members of working age.

Ever since the start of the Ebola outbreak, the World Food Program and other partners have been of great help to the affected countries. They continue to support health efforts to all affected countries to enable them reach zero Ebola cases. The World Food Program also helped to expand school meals to all children in need and supported vulnerable rural communities by delivering food to them to overcome hard times.

Ebola2Due to the Ebola outbreak, schools in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone remained closed for months, depriving the children of education. Education is very important to the World Food Program, as they are eager to continue their School Meal programme as soon as school reopens. As of now, schools in all three countries have resumed and the school children are enjoying their hot meals from the School Meal programme.

During the meeting, the representative of Sierra Leone mentioned debt relief. She asked for additional support on behalf of her country in the form of debt relief and direct budget support. She also showed us a power point of the cases of Ebola by the sexes that were affected in all three West African countries. She spoke bitterly about how the outbreak has impacted economic sectors. For example:

  • Small scale farmers were mainly affected during the Ebola outbreak; the virus prevented them from fully accessing their fields to plant or harvest or going to the market place to sell their crops
  • Reduction in mining, especially small scale mining
  • International trade is severely affected
  • Tourism and hospitality are severely affected as many exports left the region
  • Air and sea transport have been negatively affected

Ebola1The World Food Program also manages the UN humanitarian air service operating within and between the affected areas. UNICEF (UN Fund for Children) and their partners also helped by initiating a “house to house family sensitization on Ebola campaign” to educate them mainly on hygiene. At each house visit, a health professional was available to discuss with the families about Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the source and means of spread of the disease, and the behaviors required to stop the disease. Their goals were to get the community to participate in the EVD response, engage them in tracing the transmission risk, and also lay a foundation for health sector recovery.  UNICEF’s campaign objectives were to reach 100% of the households in the country with correct information on EVD, increase community acceptance, promote hand washing, rebuild public confidence, install neighborhood watch structures, and continue providing food and logistical services to the affected communities to reach zero Ebola cases. According to records, WFP requires US $56 million by the end of 2015. So far, WFP has received US $329 million for its Ebola response. Looking on the bright side, the World Health Organization declared Liberia “Ebola free” on May 9th. We look forward to hearing more good news from the World Health Organization.


UN Global Education Envoy Gordon Brown called for a multi-million dollar emergency fund for education, noting that refugee children have the fewest opportunities for schooling. Good news: an innovative on-air school enables Syrian and Iraqi children, whose education has been disrupted by conflict, to start learning again.