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Wyandanch students to Skype with Mexico City kids

A group of Wyandanch middle school students on Friday will interact with students more than 2,000 miles away in Mexico in an exercise designed to promote global awareness.

The 50 students participating are 10- and 11-year-olds at Milton L. Olive Middle School and they will be Skyping with 30 students of the same age at a school in Mexico City.

The event is the first global interaction under the Wyandanch School District’s new initiative with One World Organization, a group based in Port Chester that aims to build “global cooperation, governance and harmony,” according to the group’s website.

One World has three aims, said the organization’s program coordinator, Nathaniel Ham: educate, connect and empower.

“We try to empower youngsters to look beyond their ZIP code to see similarities they have in common with people around the world,” Ham said, so that the students can figure out “what they can contribute in order to help themselves and help the world be a better place.”

The organization has youth clubs at more than 30 schools, including Wyandanch. The district has contracted with One World for $11,000 for the school year, said Gina Talbert, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

In addition to Skype exchanges at the middle school, there are events being planned for the high school and Martin Luther King Jr. elementary school.

Middle school teacher Kelly Baum, adviser to the Wyandanch group, said teachers from Wyandanch and Mexico City have been Skyping with translators to establish a curriculum and decide what they wanted students to get from the interaction. This is the first of three planned Skype sessions where students will learn and teach one another about their cultures, Baum said.

The Wyandanch students have been meeting once a week after school since January and, along with their Mexico counterparts, have been researching each other’s locations. The students wrote questions they had about the other culture and teachers distilled them down to six to 10 queries, Baum said.

Even after the Skype session ends, the exchange will continue, Baum said, with students paired up with a “digital pen pal” with whom they can continue to interact via the student’s teacher.

“We’ll be creating a dialogue with room for more dialogue to happen,” she said.

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