Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mystery Package Hangout!

In February 2016, we had our first International Mystery Hangout with the island of Alderney. Alderney is one of the islands located in the English Channel. Following this connection, my partner teacher librarian, Misti Bell, had a brilliant idea. She suggested that we have our students choose items to send over to the island. She also suggested that Alderney students do the same for us. We could then connect over webcam at a later date to have a simultaneous show and tell session. Mr. Brooks Lee, the teacher of the participating 8th grade social studies class, immediately began planning this event.

Brooks encouraged his students to begin thinking about selecting items that would reflect the unique characteristics of Hot Springs, the state of Arkansas, and our nation. Mrs. Angela Etheredge did the same thing with her students on the Channel Island school of St. Anne's. Brooks' students chose to send a football, t-shirts, and caps from Hot Springs. They also sent over some food selections like peanut butter and pickled corn. Students from Alderney sent over similar items. Neither school knew what was in each other's packages since it was decided that both sides should wait and open them on the day of the Google Hangout.

The Hangout!

After several weeks of planning, the date for the connection was set for Friday, May 13th. I was very glad we were able to host this webcam meeting in the library! Our students really looked forward to this event! On the morning of the Hangout session, we set the computer in an area of the library that allowed the Alderney students to see everyone in the room. We were very glad to connect with Mrs. Elizabeth Hutchinson, Head of Schools' Library Service on the island of Guernsey (another Channel Island). Elizabeth was responsible for connecting us with Alderney in the first place!

After we connected with St. Anne's and Elizabeth simultaneously, each school immediately took turns taking items out of their packages, and they would show each item. The teachers and students would share the significance of each item.

Lakeside students open the package from Alderney

One of our students shows a brochure from Alderney

A magazine from Alderney

Currency from Alderney

The classroom at St. Anne's

Alderney students wearing caps from our town of Hot Springs!

This student from Alderney actually tasted  pickled baby corn sent from Arkansas!

Student Reflections

"I enjoyed reconnecting with Alderney after our Mystery Hangout a few months back. It was fun exchanging the gifts from their country. I also liked learning about them and their country. It was fun seeing their reactions to all of our stuff, and it was fun getting to react to all of their things. I feel like both classes learned a lot from this experience." - Katherine H

"Reconnecting with Alderney was a great experience. It was so cool to see people from a different culture and seeing how we are alike and different. We got to see what their life is like and where they live and what they eat. It's crazy to think we are just a small part of the world and there are people just like us all around the world." - Jenna S

"It was cool meeting people from across the world and hooking back up with them to exchange gifts we both sent to represent some little things of where we live and our country. I think it was cool that they sent different types of food and snacks they eat over there, and I thought it was cool seeing their reaction to when they saw the (American) football that we sent." -Austin Y

"I think that the ability to video and talk with another school is mindblowing. Even just interacting with the school through other programs. When we first made contact with the kids in Alderney we had a fun time trying to pinpoint their odd location... The second time we made contact we exchanged some items through the mail. Showing each other little bits of each others' culture with us sending footballs and natural goods, and them sending food and jewelry. All around the whole Mystery Hangout experience is something that we all enjoyed." - Cambryn C

"Getting to watch each other open our packages live was a great experience. Just being able to Skype (or Google Hangout) Alderney and share information about our location is fun, but receiving items from them- as well as sending them items and souvenirs- was the highlight of it all. It was interesting to compare our daily lifestyles. What seems so normal to us is so different to them, and vice versa." - Madison E


This was a wonderful exchange for both of our schools. It was a great opportunity for us to learn more about each other's culture. The shared artifacts made us all feel more connected to our overseas friends. We hope to continue connecting with the students and teachers of St. Anne's School in the future. We also hope to have similar cultural exchanges with new countries. The library is the perfect place to connect people and information using technology!

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  1. This was a wonderful event and I am proud to have been part of it. Next time make sure you send a small gift to Guernsey 😃
    Best wishes

    1. Oh my goodness! We should have sent you something to open, Elizabeth! #EpicFail
      Thank you so much for reaching out to us this year! You have made us better educators! So glad to be your friend!