A world apart, high schoolers find common ground with students in Bangladesh

a group of students seated at a table as one uses a microphoneDhaka, Bangladesh is nearly 8,000 miles away from Fonda-Fultonville. But our high school students recently learned that despite the distance, they have a lot in common with the students at the Chittagong Grammar Secondary School.

The high school Skype Club recently participated in a video chat session with the Bangladeshi school. To make it work with the time difference, approximately 20 Fonda-Fultonville students came in before school at 6:15 a.m. so they could participate. Meanwhile, it was 4:15 p.m. in Bangladesh.

Students asked each other questions ranging from the structure of their school days and the core classes they took, to the types of music they listened to and important issues facing each nation.

“They all learned that they were very similar and had similar interests and issues in their everyday lives — use of social media among them,” club co-advisor and history teacher Sean Thompson said.

Senior Katie Dunham said she had more in common with the Bangladeshi students than the European students the club has video chatted with in the past.

“We had the same musical tastes and a lot of the same interests,” Dunham said. ”

Thompson said the Bangladeshi students were fluent in English and at least three other languages.

Since the Skype, Fonda-Fultonville students have connected with their new Bangladeshi friends through email and social media and will continue to learn about each other.  Thompson said the club will Skype with them again to continue their discussion of global issues.

“I was genuinely surprised to hear how similar cultural influences such as the music and social media were for the students in Bangladesh.  The language question made me laugh when we were asked how many other languages our students were fluent in,” Thompson said.

“As always, I learned so much from this call as well. I hate to admit that I knew barely anything about Bangladesh beforehand, and to hear that they had a Parliament with a female Prime Minister and that they are dealing with a critical refugee crisis currently really put things in perspective for me,” club co-advisor and district educational technology specialist Danielle Knabe said.

“I also laughed when they asked if American high schools were really like the movie Mean Girls. That cracked me up!” Knabe said.

Skype Club has future chats scheduled with schools across the globe, including:

  • Wuxi Academy in Wuxi, China on Tuesday, Nov. 14
  • Victor Hugo High School in Paris, France on Monday, Nov. 20
  • Flora Tristan High School in Noisy-le-Grand, France on Tuesday, Nov. 28
  • Campeon High School in Helsingborg, Sweden on Monday, Dec. 4
  • Chris St. Clair in Kunming, China on Tuesday, Dec. 12