May 22, 2010
The Other Side of the World
The two classes pose strike a pose together.
"The other side of the world is not so far away as I thought that it was"
On Wednesday evening, May 12, 2010 my 7th and 8th grade students traveled to the other side of the world to visit with their peers in the 7th and 8th grade at the Saipan Seventh-day Adventist School. Their journey was made possible through the technological miracle known as Skype. It was 6:30 P.M. here in Columbus, the end of a long school day for us and 8:30 Thursday morning in Saipan, just the beginning of Sharla Schroeder's students' school day. The sound was a bit patchy--we spent much of the time hollering "Did you hear that?" and sometimes the picture pixellated a bit, but nonetheless both groups of students seemed to have a great time. The students were supposed to ask each other pertinent questions that would tie back to subjects they were currently studying. The Saipan kids had been reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and wanted to compare what they'd read to the observations and experiences of black kids in 21st America. The Ohio kids had been studying about the expansion of the United States' influence around the world and wanted to know what the Saipan kids' impressions were of America and American culture. But a lot of the questions were of the less academic variety--what kind of food do you like? What kind of music do you like? The kids may not have learned as much as Sharla and I would have liked about race relations in America or America's global cultural reach but they learned something else, perhaps of even greater value:
That even on the other side of the world, kids are still kids.
They think where they live is boring.
They like Japanese comics.
They don't like homework. They would like more recess.
They like junk food.
They love (or hate) Justin Bieber.
They notice cute boys or girls.
They like to laugh.
And I noticed too, that whether on this side of the world, or the other, when I think of my kids it is always with warm affection and the highest hopes for their happiness.
"But the other side of the world
Is not so far away
And the distance just dissolves into the love
Into the love"
My students settle down to business after some silliness and hyperactivity early in the web conference.
The Saipan kids ponder a question asked by one the Columbus kids.
The Columbus group near the end of the webcam interview. By this time we'd been joined by the 8th grade class president who came late (she's seated on the floor on the left), a fifth grader who'd popped in to see what was going on (second from left), and Brenda Arthurs, our school principal (she's partially in view on the far left).