Skyping Across Continents: Creating Friendships with Educators from Around the World | TravelsFar2Teach

Originally published by TravelsFar2Teach on April 27, 2013

Yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to Skype with Alicia, a teacher in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  In order to prepare for my conversation, I came up with a list of questions that I had about technology and teaching abroad.  I also thought about the e-mail conversations that we had prior to our Skype session in order to prepare additional questions. After just a few minutes of talking with Alicia, however, I could tell that our conversation would be more than I anticipated.  It was early in the morning in Dhaka (8:00 AM to be exact) when we talked and late evening (10:00 PM) in Rochester.  Looking back on our Skype call, though, it was amazing to me that our conversation seemed to transcend time zones because I did not even notice it was dark outside! Since we had an excellent connection during our conversation, I felt like I was talking to her in the early hours of the morning!

In the beginning of our conversation, I learned that Alicia was originally from the United States, but had a heart for teaching abroad after studying abroad while completing her undergraduate coursework.  I initially asked her many different questions about teaching and where she taught over the past three years of her teaching career. I learned that Alicia taught fourth grade for a year and a half in a private school in South Korea and then transferred to a private school in Dhaka, Bangladesh this past year to teach sixth grade and then became an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) specialist at the school.  Before even conversing with Alicia through Skype, I also found out that she worked on Saturdays, and I could already tell that she was a devoted teacher!  Since Alicia had experiences teaching in both first and third world countries, respectively, I was interested to learn more about the differences between the two different countries.  While in South Korea, I learned that the technology was current and “Westernized”. The students had access to IPads and Alicia also mentioned that the students now have an IPad lab at the school! I also thought that it was interesting that Alicia used Macs in this school and that there was at least one Mac computer in each classroom in addition to other technological resources!  The school that she taught in used PenTouch SMARTBoards (an interactive whiteboard that supports finger touch). I had never heard about this before, so I was very interested to learn about this particular technological device!  I was also specifically interested in learning more about South Korea since I have considered teaching there after I graduate!  In addition, I asked Alicia about parent engagement and support, student behavior and discipline, private schools and international schools, and what it was like adapting to various cultures in a short period of time.  I also learned that in Bangladesh, the accessibility to technology was different, depending on the student, whereas in South Korea, most students had access to current technologies.

Throughout the conversation, I noticed that we had many different things in common, and for someone that I had never talked to before, this was amazing to me! One specific highlight of the conversation was being able to share my own experience teaching in Asia (Pune, India) and discussing some of the similarities between teaching students in both countries.  By talking with Alicia, I definitely gained a deeper appreciation for the field of education and developed a broader perspective about teaching in another country.  Through this project, I also established a connection with an amazing educator that I felt like I knew for years!   (I can’t believe that our conversation was an hour long- it seemed like it was only 15 minutes!)

Overall, Alicia encouraged me to seriously consider teaching overseas, especially with the program that she went through initially. (Interestingly enough, I met with a recruiter from this same organization a few weeks ago!)  After our conversation ended, she told me that she would enjoy talking again sometime in the future! (I already thought of some additional questions this morning that I would like to ask her next time!) I am so glad that Dr. Ransom recommended that I Skype with Alicia because we had so much in common!  Our conversation took many different turns (partly due to my inquisitive nature); after Alicia answered one question, it prompted me to ask others that I had not written down beforehand!  Not only did I meet someone interesting through this project, I feel like I made a friend with a colleague that I can keep in touch with for years to come; I am eager to have similar conversations with other educators in the near future!  Through this project, I realized the value of using Skype in the classroom; it is an amazing tool that should be utilized consistently. In addition, I gained valuable insights about a culture that I knew little about beforehand.  After talking with Alicia, she further inspired me to research the different possibilities for teaching abroad, since I am officially done with my graduate studies in August!  Even though I did not get to ask all of my questions, I am hopeful that I will talk with Alicia in the future; who knows, maybe one day our paths will cross as we both journey throughout our teaching careers!

Skyping Across Continents: Creating Friendships with Educators from Around the World | TravelsFar2Teach.

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