Students videochat with soldiers in Iraq - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Students videochat with soldiers in Iraq

Dubuque (KWWL) -- Technology has changed how America fights wars, but it's also changed how our troops overseas stay in touch with family and friends stateside. Now, high schoolers are using the internet to be a part of current events.

"Hi, I'm Ashley," a student says into a microphone.

"Hello, Ashley! How are you?" says a voice coming through a speaker. A live feed of that person, a U.S. soldier, is shown on a projector screen.

Live from Iraq, Master Sergeant Craige Roberts talks to Dubuque Hempstead students with hardly a delay through the online videoconference program Skype. This is the first time this particular class has chatted with the soldier via Skype after months of email.

It started last fall when history teacher Brenda Foust had her students look at solving problems in Iraq.

"Many of them, in their solution process said that if we did some nation-building, and worked with the people in Iraq, they'd be less likely to harm our soldiers and more willing to work with us," Foust said.

With that idea and correspondence with Roberts, whose niece is in one of Foust's classes, the students decided to send school supplies for Roberts' unit to give to Iraqi children. 

"We decided that since the Iraqi children have been raised and taught since they were little to be against the Americans that if we do something nice in return to them that they will figure out we're trying to help them," student Mackenzie Arthur said.

Student Rachel Splinter's father was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2003. Splinter is one of the student coordinators of the service project.

"My dad actually knew some of the Iraqis, and we have pictures of them. When he was over in Iraq, we sent supplies over to him for the children that he could hand out, so I thought that was cool that we're doing it again," Splinter said.

"It's great. Anytime students get together to help other students or other people in another country, I think it's not only a learning experience for them, but it builds better citizens," Roberts said.

Washington Middle School students are also collecting supplies. The soldiers have promised to take photos while giving out the supplies in Iraq and send them back to the students here.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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