Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

World is virtual, but the friendships are real

First you walk past the outdoor theatre in the round with the park benches and the floating screens.

Then you go past the oddly-shaped house textured with graffiti from an actual building in the Netherlands. Continue on toward the water, and when you get tired of walking, take off like Superman and fly toward the gray cylindrical tower.

When you reach the top, you discover it's not a tower, but a tunnel that dives down into an underwater structure being constructed by kids in Tampa and Amsterdam.

Welcome to Kidz Connect, an innovative summer camp program at the Patel Conservatory that has Dutch and American kids combining theatrical talents through video streaming and a virtual world.

More than just a high-tech program for pen pals, the students from both cities are working together to create a show featuring live theater and online performances. At the core of the effort is the virtual world they've created through Teen Second Life, a three-dimensional online society.

"By creating something together, they're learning about each other and in the process, they're having fun," said Josephine Dorado, creator and co-artistic director for the project.

The Tampa contingent initially connected with the Amsterdam kids, who study at the IVKO Montessori School, through video streaming. The first conversations involved clearing up a lot of preconceived notions.

The Amsterdam group, which includes a fairly famous child star named Abe (pronounced Ah-bah), wanted to know more about cheerleading, a sport that doesn't exist in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Tampa students who travel largely by car were surprised to learn the Amsterdam students get around mostly on bicycles.

But the Kidz Connect instructors who are teaching the students new songs and dances noted that many of the students focus more on similarities.

"They're just like us," said Ivaniel Reyes, 15, a student at Alonso High School. "We listen to basically the same music. They go to the mall and the movies just like we do."

In the Teen Second Life World. Each student creates an avatar — an animated character to represent them in the virtual world. It can look exactly like them or be a fanciful creation with purple skin.

The combination of cultural education and youthful exuberance is exactly what Dorado envisioned when she created the program. A Brandon High and University of South Florida graduate, Dorado eventually earned a Fulbright Scholarship and studied in Amsterdam for two years at the Waag School For Old and New Media.

This is the second edition of Kidz Connect, following a 2006 pilot program she conducted between Amsterdam youth and kids in New York, where she currently resides.

The mix of video streaming and virtual world plays right into the "What is Real" theme of the collaborative performance the kids will stage Saturday. The audience can watch online, through Second Life or at the Conservatory's TECO Theatre. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 day of show. Call (813) 229-STAR.

When the three-week project ends, a number of students said they hope to maintain their new friendships.

Thanks to the virtual world, anything is possible in the real world.

That's all I'm saying.

World is virtual, but the friendships are real 06/24/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, acitvate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.