School councilor connects local students with kids across the world

Reid Elementary School fourth grade students chat with students from Honduras via Skype.

By Debra Schell
Press And Journal Staff

Anna Smith is a councilor at Reid Elementary School who likes getting students involved with other cultures.
Smith, a graduate of Mazapan School in Honduras, recently connected fourth-graders with students from her alma mater through e-mails and Skype, a free service that allows people to talk and see one another via computer.
“I attended the school for several years while living there,” Smith said.
Now she teaches at Reid and thought it would be a learning experience to introduce her Middletown students to their peers at her former school thousands of miles away in Honduras. So, she asked a friend and former classmate for help.
“I asked her if any teachers there would be interested in doing an activity like being pen pals or Skype with our students,” Smith said.
The answer was “yes.”
It began with letters sent via e-mail. And eventually, the two classes set up the meeting via Skype.
So, on Wednesday, May 18, the students gathered around a laptop computer to meet their pen pals. They talked and watched one another on the computer screen and the image of the Hondoran students was projected onto a wall in the classroom.
“It’s all about them [students] learning that the world is bigger than our little area,” Smith said. “People think that we are different and they realize that we have more things in common.”
Samuel Coughlin, 11, a fourth-grader at Reid, found that out during a chat with his new friend, Mauricio, a student at Mazapan School, on May 18.
“I learned that he doesn’t like drinking hot tea,” said Coughlin. “Because he doesn’t like the taste.”
Now, Coughlin wants keep in touch with his new friend.
Mazapan School is a small pre-kindergarten through 12th grade bilingual school that offers college preparatory programs.
The school is located in La Ceiba and is owned and operated by Standard Fruit de Honduras (Dole.) The school was founded in 1928 and sits on five acres in a secured area near the center of the city.
More than 300 students attend the school and become fluent in both English and Spanish and receive a United States high school diploma and a Honduran baccalaureate degree, according to the school’s website.

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