Tuesday, February 5, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Students Have Link To Israel -- Messages Describe Life With Gas Masks

From 6,767 miles away, the images of war enter into a small computer screen at Foster High School where students Robert Schlipp and Darrell Lynch jockey for a front-row seat.

The messages they receive remind them that war is not just about tanks, planes and soldiers. It's about homes, families, teen-agers and even pets.

``All this is very scary. I am even scared to take a shower because you can't know when there will be an alarm. We take the gas masks everywhere we go. It was difficult to get used to the gas mask but I managed with that . . .''

- Adi Goldstein, 15-year-old who lives in Haifa.

Washington, New Mexico and California students have been exchanging their observations and feelings about the war with students in the Tel Aviv area on a computer through the International Education and Research Network.

The connection through phone lines and satellites has made the war more real to American students than any newscast or newspaper article, said Robert, 16. ``I think it's really neat how we're talking to regular citizens, teen-agers and teachers.''

When the war first broke out, Robert watched TV newscasts constantly. After four days, he stopped because ``it seemed every report conflicted with the one before it.''

Now he gets most of his information straight from Israel.

``You get the human side. You don't get the cold side, not to say reporters are cold, but you get to know how (Israelis) really feel - the true emotions,'' Robert said.

It's all part of global education, said Principal Cheryl Hansen, who lobbied the state superintendent of public instruction office to get Foster on the network project.

Last week Robert's and Darrell's eyes glazed over as they sat in front of a tiny screen and inhaled every word they read.

Gideon Goldstein, a teacher in Tel Aviv and Israeli coordinator for the network project, was the main source of news when schools were closed.

``Just to demonstrate the change in the way of our lives I will tell you that my wife sent me off to get a small TV set for our sealed room since the large family TV we had moved there was taking up too much room. . . . When we go in, all of us put on our gas masks and wait for news. The only one without a mask is Blondie, our golden retriever. He refuses to let us put on a special gadget we rigged up for his protection. In time of real need, we will force it on his head.''

- Gideon Goldstein.

``It's astonishing to think that people our age are getting bombed and they're taking time to write us. I guess technology has come a long way when students can talk to students when they're getting bombed,'' said Darrell, 17, a junior.

Darrell reads the messages on the computer at least twice a week, usually during his lunch hour. He has already sent two messages to Israel sharing his concern and asking how teen-agers passed time when school was closed.

``I think that reading about fiction-horror can be very helpful in situations like this because when I'm reading it, I feel safe and peaceful, knowing that the horror in those books can never happen in real life. The only novel (Stephen King) wrote I'm afraid of happening is ``The Stand,'' which describes the world after a biological war.''

- Eran Lahav, a 17-year-old student in Kfar Vradim

With his tiny braid hanging over his Malcolm X T-shirt, Darrell takes a break from the computer to reflect on his new international connection.

``These people are talking about the same stuff that I'm feeling, yet we share no ethnic background or religious background,'' Darrell said.

One commonality students discovered was their dependence on the Cable News Network.

``I can't express how it was to hear about people's feelings and thoughts, and not just the news from CNN. Although it is amazing how they, CNN, knows about what is going on here in Israel, even before we know it.''

- Eran Lahav

Goldstein and students wrote about everything from how they could hear bombs exploding across the city to what subjects they liked in school.

Hearing about their lives made Darrell appreciate his own much more.

``They make us think how blessed we are to be in this country,'' he said.

Reading 10 days worth of messages compelled Robert to send his own message: ``It weighs heavy on my heart to hear of the troubled times in Israel and the rest of the Middle East and I hope this war is over soon.

``I'll write again, so goodbye for now.''

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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