Oct 26, 2009 10:26 PM by Andy Koen

Digital pen pals: Galileo students blog with kids in Afghanistan, Tanzania

Students at the Galileo School for Math and Science are building cultural bridges with young people from a half a world away using social networking sites.  During the first quarter of the school year, Galileo Sixth graders are blogging with young people in Afghanistan and Tanzania.

Andres Garcia said he his blog pal Abdul both have large families and that having that common ground gave them a lot to write about.

"I thought it was pretty cool," Garcia said.

Graham Gale says exchanging messages this way was a little unusual, at first.

"They say, have a think about that, so they have different grammar than us," Gale said.

Ashee Brown also picked up on the language differences.  "You read what they write and like some sports, we say football.  There, football is soccer," Brown said.

The bridge building program is part of a broader curriculum that involves the book Three Cups of Tea by author Greg Mortenson.  In September, Mortenson visited with Galileo teachers to introduce them to the non-profit organizations that aid literacy for women in developing countries.

The sixth graders have begun a penny campaign to help purchase school supplies for Afghan children along with their blogging activities. Novalee Yoder says the program has really broadened her world view.

"These kids will do anything to go to school," she said.  "They'll walk 4 hours to school, spend two hours there and then walk four hours back and do chores and do it all with a smile on their face."

Ambrosia Feess was also affected by the program.  "It really amazes me how much respect they have for us Americans even though they don't actually know us because we're just online," Feess said.

Galileo curriculum coordinator Eric Hamilton says the school hopes the lessons and the friendships the students create during the year will stick with them. 

"We are really looking to have a connection that's lasting and positive between our two cultures."

The seventh graders at Galileo will also take the course this year.  We always want to hear your stories.  Click here to share an idea.


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