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Fairland students learn from Palestinians

ROME TOWNSHIP — Technology brought them together — and thwarted them from time to time. But it was the giggles that made them one.

That’s what happened when Fairland High students met their Palestinian counterparts Thursday morning, via video cameras and the Internet, to learn that in many ways being a teen is same whether it’s in southern Ohio or on the West Bank.

The international meet and greet came about through the efforts of Fairland High librarian Evelyn Capper whose niece, Sarah Capper, teaches English as a second language to Palestinian teens living in the West Bank. It was Sarah Capper’s students whom the Fairland youth interviewed.

With the approval of the state department, the American teens sent over the questions they would ask during the videoconference so the Palestinians could have a chance to review their answers since they would be communicating in a language that was not their native tongue.

Dalton Froehlich was the moderator for the Fairland side, opening up with a quick synopsis of the school. A little too quick at first and was cautioned by Sarah Capper,

“Talk slowly. Everyone except me isn’t used to your accent,” she joked.

Later came the questions from both sides ranging from what are the American teens’ favorite movies to what is it like in school.

Cultural differences were apparent as the video screen showed the majority of the West Bank girls with their hair covered with the hajib, but all broke into giggles when the topic of dating came up.

The morning turned occasionally poignant and stark when both sides shared poems they had written about themselves and their dreams for the future.

“I see a messed up world … Extinction …. Different morals …. Laziness,” Fairland High Jordan Fulks wrote. “I want to make a difference in the world. We all have a purpose for our existence.”

A young Palestinian responded with her cry for freedom from violence.

“I hate all the voices and fighting. I love to see the sunshine. I cry when my friends suddenly die. I dream of peace.”

It was the similarities between the two sets of students that struck Fairland junior Grace Skiles.

“It’s given me a different perspective about the Middle East,” Skiles said. “A lot of people think in the Middle East they are all terrorists. This shows they are people like us. Even halfway across the world, they are just like us.”