A year ago, Kai Frazier gave up her home and the life she knew in Washington, D.C. to pursue a social impact driven venture that would transform the way children in impoverished communities view history and culture through virtual reality. Nearly 3,000 miles from her comfort zone in the nation’s capital, Kai got to work in Oakland solidifying her presence as a VR founder. “VR allows my hands to be untied. I can show students a world beyond their current circumstances. I can expose them to people who are different from them at an early age so they don’t fear differences,” she told ThePLUG. “I can expose them to new careers, careers that need a college degree and careers that don’t. Exposure is life changing. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t go back.” According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 15% of households with school-age children lack access to the internet. The digital divide or “homework gap” is worse, particularly for minority students and those in rural areas. Thirty percent of Black teens do their homework on a smartphone, 25% have unreliable internet access if any, and 21% use public wifi to finish assignments. Kai believes all children, especially students in Title 1 schools, are entitled to an immersive education and should be granted the space to dream beyond their current reality. “Through my VR, I want children to dream big and explore the world. I want them to not be afraid to fail and to know it’s okay to have multiple interests and career paths,” she said. “I want kids to learn about their history and culture and the world’s history and culture. I want them to stay curious and never stop asking questions. Most importantly, I want children to know they don’t have to be a victim to their circumstances and that they can make their own paths.” As a child, a world of fantasy and discovery was beyond her reach. Kai opened up about her share of misfortune and her struggles as a homeless teen. She found support from a few teachers that helped her make ends meet and graduate high school. Soon she began a path to college which led her to become a history teacher. For the next decade, Kai stood face-to-face with many students in a predicament she knew all too well—poverty. Their problems at home spilled into the classroom which ultimately impeded their growth which placed limitations on their potential. “The hood has no shortage of geniuses or prodigies. Just a shortage of resources and opportunities. While teaching, I always felt like my hands were tied,” she said. “I’m surrounded by talented students who are living through large amounts of trauma, hopelessness, poverty and they’ve never known anything else. That affects the way they show up for school if they show up—truancies and drop-outs. It affects the way they envision their future or lack thereof.” Upon leaving the classroom, Kai took her history expertise to the museum space in D.C. She quickly noticed children in low-income communities were not afforded opportunities to become enriched in culture and see the bigger picture behind the exhibits. And when she looked around, there were very few people of color in positions to change the status quo.
This Former History Teacher Provides VR Field Trips for Children in Low-Income Communities
Tyler Young - November 26, 2018 - 0 comments