By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.
At your feet lies a black headset, a thick visor to go across your eyes, and two nunchuck like controllers on each side. You pick up the headset and fit it onto your head like a crown, your eyes fitting into the visor like a pair of snorkelling goggles. Two cylindrical eye holes fill your vision, windows into another reality. A vast plane land, like the sandy terrain of Mars surrounds you. Your hands grope around, using touch and senses to pick up the controllers in the real life you can no longer see. Looking down to where your hands should be and in place there are two white controllers. You have no legs.
This is the virtual reality, a place where anything is possible except looking in a mirror. I'm in a class at the Beijing Royal school, where we are learning to build objects in the virtual reality that can be 3D printed in real life.
I am presenting the model I built to the class, completely improvising a speech on how this represents where I come from, which are the instructions our teacher gave us at the beginning of class.
I built my home, a small wooden cottage along the coast of Denman Island, with our notorious cable ferry floating in the ocean. I attempt to describe to the class what it is like to live on Denman, with a population of only 1000. I tell them about the Elementary school of 30 students, where I learned my ABCs and skinned my knees. I ended up leaving my grade 3-7 class in the fifth grade to homeschool, to go to a robotics and technology program at one of the elementary schools in town on Vancouver Island. I explain to them how all the secondary students, myself included, have to wake up early to take the ferry to our high school in Courtenay every day.
After my brief moment in the spotlight I watch the others present their creations. India shows us their flag and explains the importance of the traditional red dot on the forehead. Indiana chose corn, a tractor, and the classic cheeseburger to represent their state.
After class is over I chat with the guys from Indiana, discussing Canadian and American stereotypes. It is my first experience taking a class at the camp, and it got me excited for the rest of the classes I have today. I part ways with them to head to my next class, Panada Clay sculpture making.