Members of the Dragons’ Lair high school newspaper staff interview the delegation from Belarus and PHS staff about the partnership which may one day be expanded to include teacher and student exchanges.
By Laiken Owens
PHS student reporter
Pickens High School is beginning a new program with a school that is not so familiar to this county or country. PHS has recently announced a partnership with Byelorussian School #36, located in Gomel, Belarus. The two schools hope this relationship will allow students to learn about each other’s country, culture, and what the youth do around the world.
Another goal of partnering is to “form a friendship between us, to learn from each other,” said Ms. Ivanovna, Principal of the Byelorussian School.
Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe that borders Russia. The country’s full name is “Republic of Belarus,” and it gained independence in 1991 following the fall of the Soviet Union. The country population is 10,300,483, and its capital is Minsk. Gomel, where the new sister school to PHS is located, is a region of Belarus whose main city is also named Gomel.
To make the relationship official, on January 11th the principals of the two schools signed partnership agreements at Pickens High School. Each school gets an English copy and a Russian copy.
Some translators, students, teachers and a professor of historical science from Gomel State University were at PHS to witness the signing of the partnership documents, and to begin the new friendship with the staff of the local high school.
This “partnering” will involve regular communication and be included in some classes. Students can Skype (communicate via the internet) with counterparts in Belarus – allowing classes a world apart to learn from and interact with each other.
There are three teachers locally who have already planned to take part in this connection. Due to the large time difference between here and Eastern Europe, classes at PHS between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. are the only ones that will be able to communicate online directly with students and teachers in Belarus.
These first steps of working together online may eventually lead to real world opportunities, such as student and teacher exchanges.
While at Pickens High School, the Belarusian principal, professor, and translators joined a few classes to see how the classes here compare to theirs. They sat in on the journalism class, an English class, and discussed the Chernobyl nuclear accident (since Chernobyl is only 70 miles from Gomel) with a couple of the environmental science classes.
While in the environmental science class, the professor did more than discuss. Ms. Ivanovna went to the board with a dry-erase marker and began teaching all she knew about what happened at the nuclear plant there, how it happened, and even what she was up to when it happened.
One of translators joked that it was apparent she was a teacher by how she immediately started to teach. It proves that there is a lot we can learn from our sister school in Belarus, and a lot we can teach them as well in this new partnership.