On 30th May, 2014, Lake of Two Mountains High School in Quebec had the opportunity to speak to and see the students at their sister school, Thaura Secondary School, in Kenya. For both schools this was a first attempt with Skype, which made its success all the more exciting. The students heard about each other from their teachers and yet until they communicated through Skype they were just vague names and faces to each other in countries and continents thousands of miles away. I
n preparation for the Skype, Lake of Two Mountains students watched the documentary film by Jennifer Arnold, A Small Act (http://www.asmallact.com), which portrayed the lives and schooling of children and teens in Kenya. While the LTMHS students were impressed by the extent to which Kenyan students go for an education, the Skype with the Thaura students gave it a personal element.
Like meeting someone for the first time, both groups initially seemed somewhat shy. As the students shared questions and responses, it quickly became apparent that there were some similarities about each other’s schooling that they shared, such as the number of subjects and teachers. Both were taught in English and one other language: the Kenyan students learn Kiswahilli, the Lake of Two Mountains students learn French.
Of course, there were also differences. For example, Tharua students walk up to 15 kilometers each way to school and must wake up at 4:00 a.m. and do not arrive home until approximately 8:00 p.m. The Kenyan students were surprised to hear that the Lake of Two Mountains students walk short distances or take a bus to begin classes at 8:00 a.m. and arrive home by 3:00 p.m.
For the next half hour the dialogue went back and forth, each taking turns to ask questions. When the time came to wrap up it was apparent that both groups wanted the Skype to continue.
There is no doubt that this brief dialogue between Tharua and Lake of Two Mountains students has been the spark for future collaboration and closer ties. Emily Lerosion, a Project Kenya Sister School Coordinator stated, “It was more of an adventure than just a chat for Tharua students back here in Kenya. They had a first experience of connectivity through Skype and this made their day great as well as long for another connection.” Lake of Two Mountains students echo this sentiment.