The videoconference activity derived much of its power from its consistently student-centered qualities. The students spoke directly to each other for the entire two-and-a-half hours. As a teacher, it was extremely easy — in fact, most natural — for me to step out of the way and let the students do their thing. Other activities in the week required some teacher intervention to sustain momentum or remain productive. This activity, so captivating, rich, and authentic did not.
At times, students asked questions that made me wince, because they were potentially embarrassing or insensitive. However, these questions were always authentic, and our peers in Gaza responded to such questions both kindly and firmly, in a manner far more powerfully educative than I could have ever mustered. Students gushed about the experience afterward. Many commented that they were unaware how little they knew about the living conditions in Gaza. They showed a lot of courage asking questions and seeking to learn more.