Written by guest-blogger, Christine Berg
Last spring, after a presentation at a staff meeting about the benefits of service learning in the classroom, I decided to design my own service learning project for my French IV class. I contacted a former French teacher at our school, who is Haitian, about partnering with a school in Haiti. My vision was that we would correspond with them via email and video, and organize a benefit to help them purchase whatever supplies they needed for their school.
I contacted our IT department to find out what video equipment we had available, and they advised me to request the Flip video camera from our librarian. My students and I fell in love with it the first time we used it. It was so easy and fun to use! I immediately decided to use the grant money that I had received for the project from NYSAFLT (the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers) to purchase a Flip video camera for our friends in Haiti. Thus began our correspondence. On January 12th of this year, a massive earthquake hit the exact spot where our partner school was located. We were beside ourselves with worry. We took up a collection at our school and raised $500 for them within a few days. After about a week, we had an email from one of the teachers saying that the school had been destroyed, and the whereabouts of many of the students were unknown. They were going to move their base of operations a few miles out of Port-au-Prince and try to set up a relief center there. We sent them the money we had raised, and set about organizing a benefit where we were able to raise an additional $2800 for them. A few weeks later, we received an email stating that the school was caring for 60 children with the money we had sent. The best part was the attached video (taken with the Flip video camera, which had miraculously survived the quake!) of the children thanking us in French for our support. This was an amazing, life changing experience, and would not have been nearly as meaningful without the Flip video camera.
I have become such a believer in the power of the Flip that I recently convinced our district to purchase one for a student who was selected to study abroad in Russia for a semester through the National Strategic Language Initiative for Youth. She has been sending videos of her experiences in Russia which I have been sharing with my
students. These videos have energized my students and have had a tremendously positive impact on students’ interest in language learning and travel. They have opened a window to the world for them.
The Flip video camera is an incredible tool which can bring people and
cultures together, which is what language learning is all about.