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Wikimedia Commons

The Names of 34 International Sesame Street Co-Productions

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Wikimedia Commons

When Sesame Street debuted in 1969, many producers, teachers, and government officials from different countries contacted the Children’s Television Workshop about airing versions of Sesame Street within their own countries. Show creator Joan Ganz Cooney was astonished: “To be frank, I was really surprised, because we thought we were creating the quintessential American show," she said. "We thought the Muppets were quintessentially American, and it turns out they’re the most international characters ever created.”

Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, France, Israel, Germany, and various Caribbean nations were among the first to begin research for Sesame Street co-productions. The first international co-production to air was Brazil’s Vila Sésamo in 1972. The series ran for five years (it returned to the air in October 2007).

But some countries found Sesame Street to be too controversial for public broadcast. British broadcasters rejected the idea of creating a British version of Sesame Street, although they aired the American version on a limited basis from 1971 to 2001. Even the state of Mississippi banned the children’s television show in May of 1970.

CTW executives met with individuals from each country and worked together to develop a unique curriculum based on the needs of the country’s children. Unique characters, sets, and curriculum goals were developed for each co-production, and American cast members trained puppeteers within each country.

The goal of each Sesame Street co-production is to provide the youth in each country with a program that reflects their country’s culture, values, and educational priorities. They seek to combine universal life lessons with cultural specificity. For instance, in 2003, the South African co-production Takalani Sesame created the first HIV-positive Muppet. The Muppet, named Kami, was created to address the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Russia’s version, Ulitsa Sezam, first aired in 1996 and aimed to prepare Russian children to live in a “new open society,” although the television show is no longer played. The co-productions were also used to encourage peace and understanding among conflict-ridden regions—Shara’a Simsim tried to give Palestinian children a sense of national identity within Israel, and Hikayat Simsim aired in Jordan to “promote respect in the face of conflict.”

Other countries air dubbed American versions or spliced scenes from the American series with country-specific content, but these versions are not considered co-productions.

By 2006, there were 20 co-productions in countries all over the globe. In 2005, the New York Times reported that income from the co-productions equaled roughly $96 million. By the show’s 40th anniversary in 2009, the series was seen in over 140 countries. Currently, there are 34 Sesame Street official co-productions. Here's what they're called.

1. Afghanistan: Baghch-e-Simsim

2. Australia: Open Sesame

3. Bangladesh: Sisimpur

4. Brazil: Vila Sésamo

5. Canada: Sesame Park

6. China (Mandarin): Zhima Jie

7. Colombia: Plaza Sésamo

8. Denmark: Sesamgade

9. Egypt: Alam Simsim

10. France: 5, Rue Sésame

11. Germany: Sesamstrasse

12. India: Galli Galli Sim Sim

13. Indonesia: Jalan Sesama

14. Israel: Rechov Sumsum

15. Japan: Sesame Street Japan

16. Jordan: Hikayat Sesame

17. Kosovo: Rruga Sesam

18. Kuwait: Iftah Ya Simsim

19. Mexico: Plaza Sésamo

20. Netherlands: Sesamstraat

21. Nigeria: Sesame Square

22. Northern Ireland: Sesame Tree

23. Norway: Sesam Stasjon

24. Pakistan: Sim Sim Hamara

25. Palestine: Shara’a Simsim

26. Philippines: Sesame!

27. Poland: Ulica Sezamkowa

28. Portugal: Rua Sésamo

29. Russia: Ulitsa Sezam

30. South Africa: Takalani Sesame

31. Spain: Barrio Sésamo

32. Sweden: Svenska Sesam

33. Turkey: Susam Skokali

34. United Kingdom: Play With Me Sesame

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Pablo, a Groundbreaking New BBC Series, Teaches Kids About Autism
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Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 68 kids in the U.S., but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the condition and what it feels like to have it. As BuzzFeed reports, a new British children’s program aims to teach viewers about autism while showing kids on the spectrum characters and stories to which they can relate.

Pablo, which premiered on the BBC’s kids’ network CBeebies earlier this month, follows a 5-year-old boy as he navigates life with autism. The show uses two mediums: At the start of an episode, Pablo is played by a live actor and faces everyday scenarios, like feeling overstimulated by a noisy birthday party. When he’s working out the conflict in his head, Pablo is depicted as an animated doodle accompanied by animal friends like Noa the dinosaur and Llama the llama.

Each character illustrates a different facet of autism spectrum disorder: Noa loves problem-solving but has trouble reading facial expression, while Llama notices small details and likes repeating words she hears. On top of demonstrating the diversity of autism onscreen, the show depends on individuals with autism behind the scenes as well. Writers with autism contribute to the scripts and all of the characters are voiced by people with autism.

“It’s more than television,” the show’s creator Gráinne McGuinness said in a short documentary about the series. “It’s a movement that seeks to build awareness internationally about what it might be like to see the world from the perspective of someone with autism.”

Pablo can be watched in the UK on CBeebies or globally on the network's website.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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These Mobile Libraries Roaming Zimbabwe Are Pulled By Donkeys
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The people behind the Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program (RLRDP) believe you shouldn’t have to travel far to access good reading material. That’s why they have donkeys do a lot of the traveling for the people they help. According to inhabitat, RLRDP manages 15 donkey-powered library carts that deliver books to communities without libraries of their own.

The organization was founded in 1990 with the mission of bringing libraries to rural parts of Zimbabwe. Five years later, they started hitching up donkeys to carts packed with books. Each mobile library can hold about 1200 titles, and 12 of the 15 carts are filled exclusively with books for kids. The donkeys can transport more than just paperbacks: Each two-wheeled cart has space for a few riders, and three of them are outfitted with solar panels that power onboard computers. While browsing the internet or printing documents, visitors to the library can use the solar energy to charge their phones.

Donkeys pulling a cart

Carts usually spend a day in the villages they serve, and that short amount of time is enough to make a lasting impact. RLRDP founder Dr. Obadiah Moyo wrote in a blog post, “The children explore the books, sharing what they’ve read, and local storytellers from the community come to bring stories to life. It really is a day to spread the concept of reading and to develop the reading culture we are all working towards.”

Kids getting books from a cart.

About 1600 individuals benefit from each cart, and Moyo says schools in the areas they visit see improvement in students. The donkey-pulled libraries are only part of what RLRDP does: The organization also trains rural librarians, installs computers in places without them, and delivers books around Zimbabwe via bicycle—but the pack animals are hard to top. Moyo writes, “When the cart is approaching a school, the excitement from the children is wonderful to see as they rush out to greet it.”

[h/t inhabitat]

All images courtesy of Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program


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