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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Professor Organizes Videoconference for Children Affected by Coronavirus

By Sherry DiBari

Harry Zhang, associate professor of community and environmental health at Old Dominion University, organized a videoconference on March 9 between Norfolk students and their cohorts in China: students quarantined in their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Two dozen students from the Academy of International Studies at Rosemont spoke with 20 Chinese students, ages 8 to 15, through Zoom videoconferencing technology.

The school's partnership with the Norfolk Sister Cities organization made the event possible. Ningbo-Beilun, China agreed to become a "Friendship City" to Norfolk in 2012. Zhang is chair of the Norfolk Sister Cities-Ningbo Committee.

Zhang served as the facilitator and translator for the student conversations.

"We are calling this project Rosemont Ambassadors Embracing China," said Alvenia Peerman, media specialist at Rosemont. "We believe this will give our students a compelling look into how a disease that has become a worldwide concern is playing out in the day-to-day lives of children in China, especially in regards to what impact it is having on their education."

"I think it is great for our next generation to have open discussion about the experience and how they are dealing with it," Zhang said.

One eighth-grade Rosemont Ambassador said, "It was cool to be able to interact with people around the world and learn more, from a primary source, about how they are taking this (outbreak)."

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