Fairland High to interview Palestinian students

Published 10:14 am Monday, March 16, 2009

ROME TOWNSHIP — It was just a casual conversation at Christmastime that has turned into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some Fairland High School students.

During the holidays Fairland librarian Evelyn Capper was catching up on family news with a niece who works for Amideast, a non-profit educational and training service with field offices in the Mideast.

There Sarah Capper teaches English as a second language to young Palestinian teens. As part of the program, those teens will participate in upcoming distance learning conference with students from schools in Philadelphia.

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“If you can do it with Philadelphia, why not Fairland?” her aunt asked.

And with no good reason why not, that’s what’s going to happen at Fairland High on April 16.

Then students who participate in the Junior English College Prep classes will get to interview their Palestinian counterparts via video technology.

“We are such a global society. When they see on Headline News or CNN something about the Middle East, they have no idea,” Evelyn Capper said. “It is not registering. There is no reference.”

Setting up this videoconference has taken more than maneuvering through the technology. The United States Consulate in Jerusalem has monitored this from the start, first giving its approval for the event this past Thursday. Next the Fairland students must submit their questions ahead of time for the U.S. Consulate’s nod. This is because the conversations will be done in English and the Palestinians are still mastering the language.

“We have to be careful with our questions,” Capper said. “We get lazy with our conversation. (For this) we have to be very articulate and precise so they can understand us.”

Right now, the Fairland students are using the global community blogs of Blackboard to break the ice before the actual video conversation.

“This will put a face with the international news,” Capper said.