I’m a Tulsa Kid: Grant Gebetsberger – Holland Hall Face to Faith
Holland Hall Middle School student, Grant Gebetsberger, has had the opportunity to videoconference with student peers from all over the world through the Tony Blair Foundation’s Face to Faith program. Grant, along with his fellow social studies classmates, discussed religion, cultures, gender roles and other topics with students from as far away as Wales and Lebanon. Grant described his videoconference with students from The Adma International School in Beirut, Lebenon as a “humbling experience.” His essay on the videoconference entitled “Humbling Experiences of Face to Faith” won third place in the Informal Essay 13-15 year old category of the Tulsa City-County Library’s 2012 Young People’s Creative Writing Contest and was published on the Face to Faith and Tony Blair Foundation website.
TK: How did you and your classmates prepare in the classroom before you had your first Face to Faith videoconference?
Grant: Before our first videoconference, we didn’t know what to expect, and neither did our instructors because it was a first for all of us. We weren’t nearly as prepared as we were for other videoconferences, but we did discuss what we would like to talk about with the other classroom in Wales. We were arranged in a circle around the room and we had an open discussion about what topics we’d like to touch on during the conference.
TK: What school did you first videoconference with and what did you learn about that school and its community?
Grant: We first conferenced with Nottingham Girls School in London, England UK. We learned how culturally diverse the UK truly is. As I can only speak for myself, I imagined the UK as a predominantly white country. I had no idea the UK was such a culturally diverse place, with people from all kinds of racial and religious backgrounds in the room of about 20 girls alone.
TK: Did you realize any similarities and differences between your school and the school in another country?
Grant: Yes, I remember in our conversations they cited their chaplain as very central in their well-being at the school, being almost like a counselor. Chapel seemed a lot more prevalent in their everyday lives than it does here at Holland Hall. Other than that, there were many slightly different colloquialisms used that one would expect between English spoken in America and the UK.
TK: What topics did you focus on during your Face to Faith videoconference?
Grant: We focused on faith in general, and how important it is to all aspects of our lives. We spoke about things like what faith can help you through and what role it plays in our various endeavors. We all spoke about our places of worship, and also what respect entailed when talking about faith. We shared many examples and personal stories of when our faiths have been disrespected and how to go about respectfully talking about this sensitive issue.
TK: What did you learn about another culture from the videoconference?
Grant: One thing I learned about the United Kingdom was that it was truly a cultural melting pot. Their culture was a very accepting, open one. The people there were very open about their faiths, and I learned that people in the UK are very good at coexisting with one another despite religious differences. While faith is still very important, it didn’t cloud people’s minds and hinder them from forming relationships with one another.
TK: Your essay on your Face to Faith experience won third place in the Informal Essay 13-15 year olds Tulsa City County Library Young People’s Creative Writing Contest. Were you surprised and do you enjoy writing?
Grant: I was actually very surprised when I found out that I had won. We were all required to submit one entry by our English teacher, and I honestly didn’t think I would win. I do enjoy writing very much. I think with many people, writing carries a negative connotation. Writing is fun if you can immerse yourself in what you’re writing about, and simply express your thoughts. When I hear that we are required to write an essay, I’m actually quite excited because it’s another chance to express myself and create something of my own. That’s much more gratifying to me than solving a problem in math, or reaching a logical conclusion in science that everyone must eventually come to.
Click here to read Grant’s essay about his experience in Face to Faith.