WAGRAM — “Hola,” a group of third, fourth and fifth graders at Wagram Elementary School shouted to 10 grinning students from Puyo, Ecuador, who waved back in greeting via a Skype video call today.
Diane LeCours, art teacher at Wagram Elementary, adjusted the laptop so that the Ecuadorian children — in grades ranging from fifth to seventh — could better see her classroom filled with some 20 students sitting at the edge of their seats.
In a Skype session lasting about 30 minutes, LeCours’ class was able to share a bit of their culture with the Ecuadorian students whose faces were enlarged on an interactive whiteboard. Today marked the first time the school has participated in the video component of the Global Art Exchange project, seeing for the first time students who had already shared their cultural habits via crayons and coloring pencils.
Children local and abroad turns introducing themselves, performing songs, asking questions and presenting show-and-tell. Wagram fifth graders shared their class graduation song and third graders showed off Elsa, their class hedge hog.
Lucia Jordan, who teaches English as a second language with the Curriculum and Instruction Department of Scotland County, stood nearby to help translate.
Students on the other side of the screen sang Ecuador’s national anthem as well as a traditional children’s song before asking and answering questions about what kind of sports they played, what sorts of food they ate and their favorite holidays. Wagram students looked wide-eyed at each other when some of the Ecuadorian students’ answers were no different than their own.
“They play volleyball too?” one of the students blurted out, astonished.
After naming off a few American delicacies like pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and apples, many students were taken aback when the Ecuadorians listed grilled guinea pigs as one of their favorite meals.
A chorus of “eww” rose in the classroom, along with stifled giggles.
Jordan added that the dish was a rare delicacy in Ecuador, eaten as part of a tradition. She compared it to Americans eating caviar as a delicacy. “It’s not that common,” she said. “And it’s expensive.”
LeCours allowed the students to crowd around the laptop and wave goodbye to the Ecuadorian students before disconnecting from the video. “Thank you for talking with us,” a few of them shouted.
“I wanted this to be something fun and memorable for them,” said LeCours. “I’m excited that our kids were able to talk with kids in another country.”
Rachel McAuley can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 15. Follow her on Twitter @rachelmcauley1.