When students at St. Anselm Catholic Elementary School in Toronto sang, “I love you in the morning and in the afternoon” through a Skype video call to their new friends at an orphanage in Uganda, time zones and differences melted away.
The call was part of the CHAT to the Future program, which regularly connects schools in Canada and North America with a student-funded home for orphans in Africa, teaching children that neighbors can be anywhere.
CHAT to the Future grew out of a project in my World Issues class at Saint John High School four years ago. The program, now a registered charity, empowers students to develop their entrepreneurial skills by raising funds to pay living expenses and school fees for Ugandan orphans. The initiative enables those orphans to attend schools otherwise beyond their financial reach.
And, thanks to Skype in the classroom, 40 schools across North America are now involved. That’s because teachers like Michele Whyte at St. Anselm can quickly and easily find out about education-enhancing opportunities like our program.
She isn’t alone. On the same day, more than 1,000 miles away in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a similar scene played out at Sir Charles Tupper Elementary School. The whole school sat quietly in the gym while their Ugandan friends sang to them. Next, students from grades 4-6 played two cello pieces – a brand new instrument for their friends to enjoy. CHAT teacher Laura Kennedy believes that “when you see the faces of Ugandans smiling and then [your] children smiling back, that’s a universal message that you can’t teach. You have to live that.”
I had the terrific pleasure of attending this session along with CTV News to once again relive the magic that took hold of me and my students four years ago. We at CHAT to the Future share a vision of connected, engaged child-citizens in an ever-improving world. Skype in the classroom continues to be an excellent and reliable tool for fostering these global connections and meaningful relationships.
If you are a teacher and would like to get your students involved, you are welcome to register your interest here.