Four local schools engaged in a debate with students from an American university last week.
A selection of Politics students from Lurgan College, St Michael’s Grammar School, Lismore Comprehensive School and Portadown College exchanged questions and opinions with students of LaGrange College in Georgia, USA, during a video conference facilitated by Skype.
While the conference got off to a pleasant start as staff from each school introduced their students to their American counterparts, things soon began to heat up as pupils on this side of the Atlantic kicked off the debate.
Students from the four schools were eager to hear the Americans’ opinions on law enforcement in the US, and challenged them on the existence of Guantanamo Bay in relation to human rights, with one US student calling the internment facility a ‘necessary evil’. Things got interesting when US students asked about the prevalence of gun ownership in the UK, as the widespread possession of weapons by US citizens - with claims that they are necessary for personal security - has increasingly become the source of widespread controversy.
As the conference rolled on, students came to the conclusion that they had more in common than they might previously have thought, with one American participant adding: “In a lot of ways, we’re not that different.”
The event was hosted by Mr Robert Uprichard and his Politics class at Lurgan College, having been arranged by Mr Lewis Porter - who established links between Craigavon Borough Council and its Sister City, LaGrange, in 1993. Staff in attendance were Miss Patterson from Portadown College, Ms Nixon from Lismore and Mr Brunt from St Michael’s.
It is hoped that these video conferences can play a more regular role within schools here, with everyone keen to develop the transatlantic ties.