Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Video Conference 2

Once again at 8 am in the morning, kids from our class and group attended another video conference with actual students of the Congo. It was definitely exciting for us and them. At the beginning of the conference we had to introduce our school, how many people attending the conference, where your school is and an interesting fact of presentation for the students from the Congo. One school had a student sing "Where is the Love?" by Black Eyed Peas while playing the ukulele. That was really cool!

We talked about how people think that we live igloos because Canada is pretty cold which is true and how we Canadians love our Tim Hortons! The student of the Congo sang us a song. It was impressive and cool!

Here is a bio taken from the "Students rebuild" site and our social teachers blog.

ETN is a vocational training school supported by CARE in the DRC. The center offers eight vocational training programs ranging from mechanics, to sewing, to plumbing, and even modern African cuisine! This year long program works with demobilized child soldiers, survivors of gender-based violence and street children to help them gain a skill set with which they can build a livelihood for themselves after completion of training.

There is Michael. He is 21 years old. He had 9 siblings but lost most of them to conflict and illness. He lives just outside of Goma with his aunt – both of whom have AIDS. Everyday, he walks over an hour to ETN to learn culinary art. In the future he hopes to be an artist to share his story.

There is Baraka. She is 13 years old. She loves Rihanna and has even tried to copy her hairdos several times (not the red one though!). She studies computing and electronics at ETN and dreams of becoming an engineer. She would like to bring sustainable electricity to her neighborhood.

There is also Patrick, or as his friends call him "LMP." He is 19 years old. He is actually from Rwanda (we will learn more about this interesting relationship between the two border countries later). He was a child soldier but just this past year, he was given the opportunity to study at ETN. He decided he would have more opportunities in the future with an education so he stopped being a solider. He is currently studying mechanics.

Then there is Moise. He is 20 years old. Although not formally part of the group of students I work with, he came up to me and asked me questions about America (not knowing I'm actually Belgian!). He told me he wished to study in the US with one caveat: to return to Congo and become a humanitarian worker. When asked "why?" he simply responded "to help my country develop."
And finally there is Abigael. She is 20 years old. Abigael has been an orphan most of her life. She studies computing and plans on travelling the United States and Europe to meet her peers and learn from them via technology – she believes education is the key to her country's development. In the meantime, she would like to learn how to build a cellphone.

End of bio!

We got to talk about Canada and the Congo. The students of the Congo attend something called the ETN where they take former child soldiers and rehabilitate them. The ETN teaches kids to get a job in society such as a cook, mechanic etc. It was interesting to hear them speak French. For some of us attending the video conference, there wasn't much of a language barrier because some of us took french as an option. The students of the Congo don't speak english.

For about an hour, students from North America and the Congo would exchange questions about each other. One question was asked for the Congo students, "What was life like to be a Child Soldier?", or something around those lines. Pauline, the translator, translated the question for them and added, "You don't have to answer the question" at the end. The students just shook their heads and didn't want to answer. Pauline said to us that the question is a delicate question and it portrays the pain the students suffered. They didn't even want to talk about it which was ok.

Some challenges these kids face is the problem with resources. Some kids don't have materials for school. The technology the ETN has is probably only six computers and cellphones which they don't use very often because the lack of electricity. This video conference gave an opportunity for the students of the Congo to experience technology.

It was interesting to hear of what kind of music the students listen to. One student told us that he listens to Lil' Wayne, Eninmen and Micheal Jackson. Pauline told us she didn't even know those artists which made us laugh.

Visit these sites! Like on Facebook! Check out the students rebuild site to learn more about the ETN!

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