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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, January 31, 2003

Big Island, Chile will exchange teachers

Advertiser Staff

HILO, Hawai'i — Three Big Island teachers will travel to Chile next month to teach and learn from other teachers there in an exchange program sponsored by the Gemini Observatory.

Gemini officials in Hilo and sister city La Serena, Chile, announced this week that Waiakea Elementary School teacher Christine Copes, Kea'au High School teacher Kristen Luning, and Haili Christian School teacher Alicia Hui have been selected for the exchange program.

The Big Island teachers will spend 17 days in Chile in late March and early April, and will use high-speed Internet videoconferencing technology provided by Gemini to present lessons to their students back home while they are traveling.

The Big Island will then host teachers Carmen Luz Briones, an elementary school teacher in La Serena; elementary school teacher Viviana Calderon; and preschool teacher Yenny Opazo when they visit Hawai'i in October.

All of the teachers have expertise or interest in math or science, and were selected based on interviews, teaching experiences and their entries in an essay contest.

The twin Gemini 8-meter telescopes are located on Mauna Kea on the Big Island, and on Chile's Cerro Pachon to provide complete sky coverage in the northern and southern hemispheres. The Cerro Pachon facility is at 8,895 feet elevation, while the Mauna Kea facility is at 13,824 feet. Gemini is a partnership between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

In a meeting yesterday linked by Gemini's videoconferencing system, the teachers said they were looking forward to cultural and professional exchanges that would benefit students on both sides of the ocean.

Copes, a resource teacher specializing in math and technology, called the Big Island "a living laboratory" for science educators, and said she is eager to share the resources there with teachers from Chile.

The Hawai'i teachers also said they have been brushing up on their Spanish.

Hui, a fifth-grade teacher, said she plans to take her 'ukulele to Chile. "I've found it a great ice-breaker, and one of the best tools I can use to share my Hawaiian culture," she said.