The above message popped up in one of my Skype groups as I was preparing for my next class – Year 9/10 Global ICT. What an opportunity! I hope to connect this class to many different teachers, classes in as many countries as possible. Roshan is a Skype Master teacher from Sri Lanka – a country many students do not know of.
As it was only 10 mins to the start of my class, there was little time for formal organisation. Another message popped up from my long time online colleague, Sebastian Panakal, from Kerala, India. He wanted to be part of the same connection.
Unfortunately, there was so much happening in the school that for much of the time, I only had two students in my class. This is what the lesson looked like:-
- Played Mystery Skype. Students quickly worked out that Sebastian was from India but Roshan’s country was much more difficult to determine.
- Roshan shared his screen and a pictorial presentation on Sri Lanka- the country, the culture, the religions, festivals etc.
- Students were given an opportunity to ask questions
- Sebastian, of India, then spoke briefly of his work and his passion for experiencing a peaceful world. He believes that connecting students world wide will develop empathy and understanding, forming the foundation for a peaceful world, free of terrorism.
The class then took on a completely different atmosphere. Roshan talked about the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, the emotions that people were feeling, the environment they were now living in etc. It was with mixed emotions that we listened to a teacher in a school of 3000 where only 200 students are coming in each day. Students are too frightened to come to school. Facebook is still blocked by the Sri Lankan government to keep rumours at bay.
There is fear, disappointment, disbelief everywhere. The community no longer supports some of the Muslim traders. There are swords found in some of the religious mosques leading to even greater fear. Some of Roshan’s friends are Muslim and are wonderful people. They feel that the terrorists were a highly educated group organised from outside their country.
It was with great disquiet, that we left the classroom with much to think and reflect on. How can we help these people? How can we reduce terrorism? What is it really like to survive attacks like this? What impact does it have on the local communities?Will life ever be the same for them again? So many questions!
- Having two guest educators in our classroom at once, each from a different, but neighbouring country.
- Learning about the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka from someone who lives there and experienced it.
- Being able to interact in real time and ask questions.
- Seeing the props that Roshan used to add engagement – a smiley face when the answer was ‘yes’ to the Mystery Skype questions and the flag when the students calculated the right country.
- Experiencing the presentation showing different aspects of Sri Lanka
- Having access to a recording that Sebastian had made.
- and so so much more….