Students in San Jose and China form bond through technology

Students from China playing with an Xbox at Microsoft in Silicon Valley.

April 29, 2013 9:14:47 PM PDT
In San Jose, a small group of fifth graders at Washington Elementary School have made a connection with their counterparts on the other side of the planet. They even got the opportunity to visit their new friends in China thanks to a program sponsored by Microsoft in Silicon Valley.

These students have been technology pals for a year now. They interact through Skype, learning about each other's culture, language and other activities. They act like old friends sharing new experiences.

"Sometimes they can sing and dance and talk with me," said student Venis Wu.

Four students from China are also visiting the Silicon Valley for 10 days. Microsoft was their first stop, meeting employees who speak their language.

The San Jose students, most of them English language learners, had a similar experience when they spent one week in China just a month ago.

The trip was sponsored by Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative.

"It was the best experience. Hispanic kids like me wouldn't even get a chance to go to China. I'm the only person in my family that went to China," said student Andrea Saldana.

"They get to see things on TV. They get to see things in the movies and they have an idea of what the rest of the world is like but to actually go there and experience it, is completely different and really revolutionary for them," said Microsoft's Jessica Weare.

Aaron Rubio says someday he will return to China.

"And go back and visit the things I saw when I was a little kid back then when I was 10 years old and in the future I would experience that moment again," he said.

The program teaches the students that anything is possible, including landing a job in the Silicon Valley someday.