Blair Students, German Students Meet Through Internet

By Norma Menjivar
     For the past two years Silver International staff members have been communicating with students in a school in Germany named Gymnasium Wandlitz.
     After the September 11 tragedies, students in an English classes at Gymnasium Wandlitz wanted to do something about it. According to Mr. Bellino, the advisor of Silver International, the teacher of the German students, Mrs. Nowak, asked her students if they wanted to write some letters to high school students in the Washington, D.C. area. They agreed with her and she went online and discovered Montgomery Blair.
     All of last year, the Silver International staff members communicated with Mrs. Nowak’s students and the students sent many articles for Silver International. Some of those students even came to the United States and are studying in high schools in different states now.
     This year, the communication has continued but with some new students. Wiebke Jakob is one of the students that is learning English in Germany. She is in Mrs. Nowak’s English class. She is the student who got the communication started this year. “When Mrs. Nowak told us about Blair High School,” Wiebke said, “I was interested so I went to the Blair’s Website to write in the guestbook.”
     When Mr. Bellino saw her message, he told the Silver International staff about it. Wiebke has enjoyed her connection to Blair. “Talking to you guys helped my English improve a lot,” she said. “I also learned that it’s not always easy for immigrants in the USA.”
     Tadese Measho is one of the Silver International staff members who has been having a friendship with students in Germany, especially with Wiebke. “Chatting with those people in Germany is a great experience,” he said. “I have been learning a lot of things from her about Germany.” Tadese e-mails her about three to four times in a week. “I would like to keep in touch with her after high school,” he said.
     This year Mr. Bellino created a Web page that makes it easier, for us here in the U.S. and for the students in Germany to communicate. The Web page is like an Internet classroom where students can discuss different topics.
“I decided to create this Web page because it was taking so long for students to get answers to their questions,” Mr. Bellino said. He also thought that it would be a good way to get more students involved.
    Some students in Mrs. Tomayko’s 11th grade English class and in Ms. Gutierrez’s ESOL class have also been participating.      Most of the students in Germany who have been participating are in a class taught by another English teacher named Mr. Wilke.
     The students have talked about many different topics in the Internet classroom. The top topic was about the war with Iraq. Most of the students in Germany were against the war. One student named Sven said, “War is and has never been a solution to solve problems. Sometimes it seems to be the easiest way to change anything to be better, but in history I cannot remember any war that brought any benefits to the group who started it and the same goes for the Iraq conflict.”
Lilian Nguyen, a Blair student, wrote about being in favor of the war. “I agree with Bush that we should have a war in Iraq because we can’t just close our eyes to watch what more is going to happen to the U.S. We need to think over about September 11. How could we forget what happened? How can we let the innocent people die during their dreaming life? They died without closing their eyes.”
     Here is a selection from some other opinions of the German students
“For us there are so many other possibilities instead of killing innocent people. On the other hand, we know that you have to fight against terrorism, but you cannot solve this problem with the help of weapons.” (Marian)
“A war can’t stop terrorism and can’t be the answer for the things that happened on 11th September. I condemn that criminal act. But to react in the same ways and to destroy Iraq is childish.” (Christin)
     “In my opinion, the U.S.A. has absolutely no right to play “God” and to decide death or life for the whole world. In my eyes American people think they are the most important “authority” of the world and everybody has to do what they say. I’m afraid they tend to be a bit selfish and over-estimate themselves. ” (Annegret)
    “Maybe they say they want to help the oppressed people who live in Iraq. Maybe they say they want to destroy the arms. But it’s not only the problem of the U.S. It’s the problem of the world.” (Yvonne)
“I don’t think the U.S.A. has any rights to decide which countries are ‘bad’ and which countries are ‘good.’” (A B)

 

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