“Ann-young-ha-se-yo!” the classes chanted through my computer screen.
I sat in my room at 10:30 PM, my computer plugged in with the ethernet cable to ensure the Skype session would run smoothly. I looked through my computer screen at the rows of cheerful fourth-grade faces, thousands of miles away in Quebec. On the far wall, a clock read 8:30 AM. For three months, the students and their teacher, Mr. Kaplin, had been reading my Reach the World articles and sending in questions about Korea. What do you do with your host sisters? What is your favorite Korean food? Do you miss your family?
Now was the final part of my volunteer experience–the videoconference.
After giving a quick introduction and a recap of my experience in Korea so far, the students came up to the computer one-by-one to introduce themselves and ask me more questions. Thinking about the articles I had written, the students asked about my host family, how I dealt with eating if I didn’t like the school cafeteria food that day, why Hyundai was so important in Korea, and how my students survived staying in school until late at night. One student asked me to introduce myself in Korean. Impressed, he told me I “sounded fluent.”
No, not nearly. A constant source of guilt for me when I teach my own students, and even more so when I realized that the 10-year-old students in front of me were trilingual (English, French and Hebrew).
After about 30 minutes and nearly as many questions, we signed off. I was grateful for the opportunity to share my teaching experience with other students, and they were genuinely interested and engaged throughout our talk. It was a welcome change from the sleepers in my high school classes!
A week later, Mr. Kaplin sent me a website link to a local newspaper called The Suburban. Our videoconference had been reported in the news! That was totally unexpected, but a pleasant surprise and a perfect ending to the semester.
Because my profile will be removed from the Reach the World website to make room for the next crop of writers, I will re-publish my articles on this blog. Remember, the original audience is a fourth grade class, so the writing will be a little different than what I usually share here!