South students Skype with Russians

South+students+Jacob+Funschelle%2C+9%2C+Taylor+Mitchell%2C+12%2C+Austyn+Esser%2C+12%2C+Michael+Guillen%2C+12%2C+Emily+Steenbock%2C+10%2C+and+Madie+Loomis%2C+10%2C+Skype+with+Russian+students+on+Jan.+17.+The+students+were+able+to+communicate+from+5-6%3A30pm+and+have+now+joined+a+facebook+group+to+stay+in+contact.+Photo+by+Sarah+Holmes

South students Jacob Funschelle, 9, Taylor Mitchell, 12, Austyn Esser, 12, Michael Guillen, 12, Emily Steenbock, 10, and Madie Loomis, 10, Skype with Russian students on Jan. 17. The students were able to communicate from 5-6:30pm and have now joined a facebook group to stay in contact. Photo by Sarah Holmes

by Austyn Esser

South students originally planned to Skype with Russian high school students on Jan. 12, but due to technical difficulties the only session happened on Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 for the Russian students. South began the Skype at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday night, which was actually 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning in Russia.  Shelly Walston, English, was approached about getting students together who were interested in the idea.

“I’ve worked with Sherry Goodvin at WSU for the last two years in the College of Education ,and she contacted me about the possibility of some of my students speaking with Russian students,” Walston said. “She contacted me because I’ve worked with her in the past and I’m interested in Russian history and education after living in Kazakhstan (just south of Russia) for two years.”

The session took place in the Lecture Hall where the Skype was projected onto the big screen, which made it more convenient for each party to communicate. South students got the chance to speak with English-language students in Khabarovsk, Russia, a city located on the far eastern coast of Russia bordering China.

“Speaking with the students from Russia gave our students a chance to get to know about a place they’ll probably never ever get to see,” Walston said. “It went so well and I think everyone involved had a great time.”

The students interacted by asking one another questions about not only their school, but outside activities as well as their home life.

“They asked me a lot of questions about the school day, music, and my age,” Michael Guillen, 12, said. “The first question I asked them was if they knew Beyonce or if they have listened to her music and they laughed with excitement.”

In comparison to American schools, Russians go to school for 11 years instead of 13.

“It was really odd to discover that they took physics their seventh year of schooling,” Madie Loomis, 10, said. “I can’t imagine the stress and how smart they are.”

Jacob Funschelle, 9, took it upon himself to create an Animoto video for the students in Russia to see what life is like at South.

“I made a video about different academics, athletics, and extra-curricular activities that go on at our school,” Funschelle said. “I felt it was a great honor to make it and I really enjoyed that they enjoyed it.”

For all students to stay in contact there is a facebook group, which will allow them to chat more and learn more about one another’s lives.

South students Jacob Funschelle, 9, Taylor Mitchell, 12, Austyn Esser, 12, Michael Guillen, 12, Emily Steenbock, 10, and Madie Loomis, 10, Skype with Russian students on Jan. 17. The students were able to communicate from 5-6:30pm and have now joined a facebook group to stay in contact. Photo by Sarah Holmes