In August 2006, I went to my first SCBWI conference, in Los Angeles, and met a young woman who lives in Dubai. She had asked a question about multicultural stories at one of the sessions, and I zoomed in on her afterwards. Funny, as this is rather untypical of me. We exchanged email addresses, and later on, found ourselves attending one of Uma Krishnaswami’s online workshops. We’ve always kept in touch, since, and a few weeks back, Maha sent me an email saying that she had just read Amadi’s Snowman with her 4th grade class. I was thrilled, of course. Another stop for Amadi’s global travels. I asked her if she would like me to do a Skype author visit ? Maya responded with a resounding YES! She set up a Skype connexion at her school, and we both did some research. Elizabeth Dulemba offers great information on her website, and I also visited the Skype An Author Network. Once we had figured out the time difference between Dubai and India (only 1 hour and half), we did a Skype test a couple of days before. We were ready!
Here is an account and some pictures of my first virtual visit — at the Bradenton Preparatory Academy in Dubai, January 27, 2010.
Hyderabad, India, 10:28 AM : My desk is ready. Computer is on. Skype is on. And I have my big writer’s file, the dummy and the book close by.
At 10:29 AM, I call the school’s number, and almost immediately, the children at Bradenton Prep appear on my screen. Out of curiosity, I checked the distance between Hyderabad, India, and Dubai, UAE. It is 1588 miles (2555 km), but thanks to Skype, I had the whole class with me, in my office, and they had me, right in their classroom in Dubai.
I worried about technical or connexion glitches, but there were none. The children did have to get up and stand closer to the class computer for me to hear their questions clearly, but other than that, no frozen image, no loss of sound or noises that force us to stop or call again.
And here is what it looked like on the other side: