Over the last 6 years I have had many exciting skype linkups both as an individual, a teacher and with classes, but last week I experienced one of the most emotional of my videoconferencing life.
Tatyana Chernaya of Moscow was looking for some global teachers to skype into her school for International Peace Day. The students there had been reflecting on and discussing world peace. However, this was not an ordinary school but one for students with special needs and many of their classes are online.
A time for connection was set and 15 mins prior to the conference, Tatyana messaged to make sure I was online. Skype soon alerted me to the incoming call. As my webcam took focus, I could see a class of students with special needs in front of me and a number of teachers with laptops in their hands. Thinking they were videoing the skype call, we proceeded with mystery skype. The students had to work out what country I was from with questions that just required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The questions flowed in and I could hear them clearly
Did I live in Europe? Did I live in USA? Did I live near the sea? etc
Then, quite quickly and smoothly the webcam panned around the classroom to a corner that was not initially visible to me and again quite clearly I heard a question
Are you from Australia?
But that question came from a laptop that the webcam was focussed on! It was then that I realised the laptops held individually by adults, each had a student in them, beaming in from home but still part of this live linkup. I was not the only one in a laptop. That nearly brought me to tears!
Peace was discussed – the relative ‘safeness’ of our countries – Russia and Australia. Discussion came from both the students in the physical classroom and those in the laptops. Students sang me a wonderful song. As the conference drew to an end, the ‘special needs’ students in the classroom and in the laptops all said goodbye and thanks!
I subsequently released tears as it was such an emotional and special linkup, made even more interesting in that when I was growing up, Australia was part of the ‘Cold War’ with Russia and here we now are discussing International Peace.
Thanks to Tatyana, the staff and students for all the effort that must have gone in to bringing these students together for this videoconference.