MCAT 112 Connects Two Continents
Projected on a white wall of the Kenyan schoolhouse was a live video feed of American high school students in their classroom. A Kenyan student walked to the camera and started to converse with a girl her age on a different continent.
Maritime Civil Affairs Team 112 facilitated video call sessions between schools in Malindi District, Kenya, and Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Va., June 7.
Using a commercial software application that allows users to make voice and video calls over the internet, the students were able to speak to each other live and ask many questions on a broad range of topics.
All of the students loved the opportunity to see and talk with American students, said the Progressive School Watamu Headmaster Daniel Koi.
Members of the MCAT 112 team agreed with the headmaster.
"It was exciting to see that they had this opportunity to communicate," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Forest Cameron, MCAT 112 leading petty officer.
Despite the fact that there is a huge cultural divide between them, they share many things in common, said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Kevin Shultz, MCAT 112 chief. The students share common interests, such as music. There were also students who followed the same professional soccer team, he added.
While the students spent most of the time talking about social issues, the MCAT members would like to include more school-related topics in future discussions.
"We see this as a great venue to do an educational forum," said Cameron.
One of the ideas the MCAT has is for the students to find common reading material that both can share and discuss, said Shultz.
"The perspectives could be different or the same," said Cameron, adding that this would provide two different cultures a chance to observe how kids of the same age group can relate to a common interest.
"Even though we are continents apart, children of that peer age are more similar then they realize," said Schultz.
The headmaster of the school said he was very pleased that all those involved took this first step in connecting the two cultures.
"All the students who experienced it, this is something they will take with them for the rest of their lives," said Koi.