(based on an article submitted to The International Educator )
The International School of Amsterdam is busy with construction in many ways. The new school site is progressing rapidly. Meanwhile, the Middle School students are building friendships with students of Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska. Co-ordinating the construction on the Alaskan site were Mr. Tom Milliron of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and Mrs. Trisha Ferrett, a Middle School Arts and Careers teacher at Ryan. On the Amsterdam side Ms Grace Knox, English teacher, helped with the development of the blueprints for this very successful exchange.
The foundation for the trip was based on the Alaskan students' study of The Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place, a study of Dutch art, and a history of the Netherlands. The students at the International School of Amsterdam were studying the works of Jack London and Robert W. Service in their English class. They completed and exchanged interdisciplinary projects via the Internet. Projects of the Amsterdam students ranged from topics in the social sciences (including a study of the Yukon Gold Rush, and the culture of the Tlinglit Indian and Haida Indian groups) to topics in natural science (such as exploring Alaskan flora and fauna, the aurora borealis, the natural parklands and the glacier ice fields of Alaska). Using CD-ROMs and Internet accounts, students did additional research on their chosen topics for their Alaskan projects.
The visit of the Alaskan students took place from March 21 to March 26, 1995. Students from both schools met at the existing ISA building on the afternoon of March 21. They attended classes with host students on Wednesday, March 22 and discussed their project work. On Thursday, March 23 students from both schools toured the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (accompanied by one of the teachers of Dutch from ISA). Thursday evening was an Alaskan 'potlatch' featuring caribou, moose, salmon (in addition to sushi, Lebanese and Indian cuisine and other international dishes). Dinner was followed by the traditional 'potlatch' exchange of gifts and a Bear Country Hoedown. Friday's activities included a play about Alaska written by the Alaskan students including authentic costumes and slides of Alaska. The weekend was spent touring many parts of the Netherlands with their host families.