An Amish student’s journey with Skype in the Classroom

Today’s post was written by Regina Schwartz, an 8th grade Amish student from Indiana, USA. Regina shares her experience with Skype in the Classroom and its impact on her life. A Skype connection last year with the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya inspired her to start a school-wide book drive for them. She worked with her classmates to send books to the camp and recently was nominated for an award for her actions. To accept this award in June, she will travel by train to New Orleans for the first time in her life—and it all started with a Skype in the Classroom connection!

An introduction

My name is Regina Schwartz and I’m an 8th grader at NorthWood Middle School in Wakarusa, Indiana. I love reading, helping others, and connecting with people. Though I don’t have technology or electricity at home because I’m Amish, I use it daily at my school and love using it to learn about and help solve real world problems.

I’ve participated in Skype in the Classroom activities at school over the past two years. Skype has allowed me to connect, talk and share experiences with other students around the world—an opportunity that I never would have had without it. I’ve also talked with museum curators, experts on different fields, refugees, and conservation organizations. I’ve virtually visited a refugee camp in Kenya, learned about shark adaptations, and saw artifacts from the Civil War and World War II.

Skype has taken me places that I could only dream of visiting. Through these Skype connections, I’ve discovered that there are many global problems, and I realized that I want to help make a difference. Skype in the Classroom has allowed me to learn and explore those problems and has offered me a way to connect with real people who are experiencing the problems or working to solve them.

Regina Schwartz
The impact of Skype in the Classroom on the world

The most impactful Skype experience that I’ve had was a brief connection with the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. As we prepared for our call, our class learned that they did not have a lot of resources. After a study of the conflict in Sudan and other countries in the region, as well as a study of the novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, where a young boy is a refugee at Kakuma, my classmates and I were shocked to learn that in schools at the camp, teachers often teach over 50 children with only a single book. It was this call and the conversations that followed that led my classmates and I to hold a school-wide book drive. We collected nearly 100 books that we sent, along with help from our school’s student council, to the camp. My heart was so happy when we found out that they received books.

Skype video call

Skype in the Classroom and its impact on my life

Skype in the Classroom has allowed me to make a global impact from my small school in Indiana. In my culture, many adults rarely leave the area. With a horse and buggy as our transportation, travel is not something that happens very frequently. Skype has allowed me to see the world in a way that I could only imagine. I would have never dreamt of impacting the lives of children around the world, but through this amazing experience, I was able to connect with and help students in another part of the world.

Because of my act of service with this refugee camp and another fundraiser I ran in support of girls in Nepal, I was nominated for the Billy Michael Student Leadership Award. My teacher learned about the award from the educator of the World War II Museum, with whom we had connected earlier in the year. The field trip educator contacted my teacher, Mrs. Anglemyer, and asked her if she had any students who would fit the profile of a student leader. To my amazement, my teacher picked me!

After learning that I was nominated, I never thought I’d win, but I did! This award will now give me the opportunity to spend a week with my parents in New Orleans where I will be participating in the American Spirit Awards. I am so excited for my travel and the opportunity to explore our country, go on my first train ride, and connect with other adults and students who are making a positive impact on the world with their big or small actions. I can’t wait to learn about other ways to help solve world problems.

Regina Schwartz

All-in-all, I feel that Skype in the Classroom has changed my education, and life, for the better. Through it, I have been able to connect with people throughout the world in an authentic way that helped me understand that we aren’t so different from each other. Traveling via Skype to all these different places has changed the way I see the world, and I feel that it is my obligation to try and change the world with my actions, and improve people’s lives where and when I can.

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Teachers: Open your classroom doors to the wonders of Skype in the Classroom! Invite guest speakers, schedule a Skype lesson or virtual field trip to inspire your students. If you are new to Skype in the Classroom, why not schedule an introductory call with one of our Skype guide live connections, or check out our Getting Started page?

Parents: Why not ask your school to get involved with Skype in the Classroom so your kids can experience the world live from their classrooms?