My name is Sophia Cohen, and I live near Miami, Florida. Every other Friday night, I stay up until 10:30 PM eastern time and await a Skype call from Chennai, India, where it is 9:00 AM. When I answer this call, I talk to students at Pathway who are eager to increase their conversational English skills.
I am a junior in high school, and it is common in my school to do volunteer work. Many of my classmates volunteer at races or help out teachers, but I wanted to do something internationally. I heard about Pathway from Bryan University and explored the Pathway website. After learning about the school and the great things it is doing, I realized that I wanted to work with the Anchorstudents in some way.
I started working on a project I called the “Video-Pal Program” in October. Using technology (Skype), I am able to talk with students around the school as if I were sitting with them in the same room. My first night, I was impressed at the way the students answered my questions, and how clearly they were able to speak. I asked them simple questions, such as what their favorite color was, or what their favorite food was. They in return asked me questions about American life, and I showed them different aspects of my culture, such as my lacrosse stick (an American sport I play), and my pet dogs. The program has grown; the students now sing songs to me, and sometimes I show them music videos. I have begun to read them picture books.
My favorite part about these sessions is seeing the confidence in these students grow every time they answer a question. During these sessions, I learn that, despite being 9000 miles away from each other, we are very similar. We sing the same songs, and watch the same movies. It does not come as a surprise to me that the students love the movie Frozen, which is very popular in the United States. In these sessions, not only have the children learned about my culture, but I have learned about theirs.
It really is a small world after all, and with the use of technology, we can learn from each other to make our world a better place. All in all, I hope to further expand the program and one day come to visit Pathway and my new friends.