I’ve been working the last month or so on a project with one of our English teachers, Marcia Curtis, relating to the novel Kite Runner. She was interested in connecting with a school in Afghanistan so that students could interview students there, or communicate with them directly in some way. We did quite a bit of searching and I ran across an organization that builds schools in Afghanistan, and she contacted them about finding students to share with.
The director emailed her back–
“Unfortunately Afghanistan barely has electricity, even in the capital. Thus, few students even have regular access to computers. I don’t know of any high schools with the infrastructure to allow its students to communicate via e-mail. There may be select students who have such tools
afforded to them but those tend to be in the wealthy areas of the larger cities.”
I think even with our knowledge of the difficulties in Afghanistan, the severity of the response was still somewhat surprising to both of us. I’ve been thinking about that email a lot in light of the YouTube video by a college student that I posted about a few days ago.
Technology can afford us the opportunity to learn about the world in a real, grass roots level way–even if what we learn is that there are great inequities.
What a powerful learning experience for Marcia’s students when she could share that email with them. How much more real did Afghanistan become for them as she shared that, and shared photos of Afghani children from online sites she found? The global connection isn’t always about successes. It isn’t always about our ability to collaborate on a project.
But it is always about getting a glimpse, just for a minute, of what another person’s experience is like. And after all, isn’t that glimpse what can connect us?