"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Virtual School Visit in Dubai, UAE

In August 2006, I went to my first SCBWI conference, in Los Angeles, and met a young woman who lives in Dubai. She had asked a question about multicultural stories at one of the sessions, and I zoomed in on her afterwards. Funny, as this is rather untypical of me. We exchanged email addresses, and later on, found ourselves attending one of Uma Krishnaswami's online workshops. We've always kept in touch, since, and a few weeks back, Maha sent me an email saying that she had just read Amadi's Snowman with her 4th grade class. I was thrilled, of course. Another stop for Amadi's global travels. I asked her if she would like me to do a Skype author visit ? Maya responded with a resounding YES! She set up a Skype connexion at her school, and we both did some research. Elizabeth Dulemba offers great information on her website, and I also visited the Skype An Author Network. Once we had figured out the time difference between Dubai and India (only 1 hour and half), we did a Skype test a couple of days before. We were ready!

Here is an account and some pictures of my first virtual visit -- at the Bradenton Preparatory Academy in Dubai, January 27, 2010.

Hyderabad, India, 10:28 AM : My desk is ready. Computer is on. Skype is on. And I have my big writer's file, the dummy and the book close by.

At 10:29 AM, I call the school's number, and almost immediately, the children at Bradenton Prep appear on my screen. Out of curiosity, I checked the distance between Hyderabad, India, and Dubai, UAE. It is 1588 miles (2555 km), but thanks to Skype, I had the whole class with me, in my office, and they had me, right in their classroom in Dubai.

I worried about technical or connexion glitches, but there were none. The children did have to get up and stand closer to the class computer for me to hear their questions clearly, but other than that, no frozen image, no loss of sound or noises that force us to stop or call again.

And here is what it looked like on the other side:

Thank you to the 20 pupils for their interesting questions and comments. And special thanks to their teachers, Maha Shehadeh (who is also the author of a picture book titled Raya's Globe, published by Jerboa, and about to be translated into Arabic) and Kingsley Griffin for making it happen, and sending me the pictures. It was FUN !


Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

I'm so glad this worked out so well for you and the students!

Katia said...

Elizabeth, I wanted to send you a word on facebook to let you know that I had mentioned you and your website, but you beat me to it. How did you find out? :)

Rachel said...

Hi Katia,
What a great opportunity!

I just started this travel blog for women and I'm collecting photos from women abroad. Submit a photo of yourself in India and some tips for other women travelers who are going there, and we'll link back to your blog.

Visit our blog: www.pinkpangea.wordpress.com and get in touch at: pinkpangea@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Katia said...

Thanks for visiting, Rachel. I'll check your blog.

rilla jaggia said...

Very cool. You sure know how to get around the world!

Katia said...

Yes, Rilla, and any means of transportation will do :)

Uma Krishnaswami said...

Katia (and Maha) how fantastic. I'm so pleased that my class played a part in connecting the two of you.

Katia said...

Ah, but Uma, your classes created a whole community of writers-friends, you know that :)