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Talk About a Long Distance Call!

On Thursday, May 10th, Babson hosted Needham 5th and 6th graders in a live video conference from space with astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams in the International Space Station (ISS).

Not open to the public or even to the Babson community, the event was a private conversation with Williams, a former Needham resident, with help from NASA for setting up the long distance call.

While the video-conference connection (via satellite through Houston) was being set up, the students were given a tour of the Blank Center 'Founder's' area, then sat down to watch a clip of Arthur Blank, B'63, H'98, in Mary Mazzio's documentary “Lemonade Stories,” about entrepreneurs and their mothers' influence. 

They were a captive and inspired audience for the video and during the tour of Academy's distinguished entrepreneurs.

The students and their teacher Angela DiNapoli were well prepared with questions. Among those Suni answered while we watched her 'floating' in the ISS were:

What is your favorite food in space? Williams replied that peanut butter and marshmallow on a tortilla is high on her list. It's a favorite of hers on earth too! 

What do you miss the most?  She misses her dog, Gorby, a Jack Russell Terrier.

What's one of the best things about being in space?  Suni said she really likes the fact that she never needs to get a ladder to reach things; she can just sidle herself into the position she needs, including 'standing' on her head if it helps.

What have you learned while up there?  Suni says Earth is a large and beautiful body with no boundaries or dividing lines; it's hard to understand why anyone would argue about particular regions on this planet – never mind fight over them!

Suni plans to visit the Needham classes when she returns to Earth – and after a stretch of time readjusting to gravitational pull. These kids have been following Suni orbiting Earth, and many were glued to TV watching her 'run' the Boston marathon on April 16th strapped to a treadmill on the ISS.

What a thrill for these kids!  And, what a thrill for this 'kid' who, when I was their age, couldn't have imagined anything like this.