Day 17 – experiencing the colour of connecting your classroom with the world.
We joined an organisation called Empatico a few years ago, so we could connect the school with other classrooms around the world. It’s highly unlikely that most of our students will ever travel far, possibly not even outside their own state, so we needed to bring the world to them as much as we could, to give them a global experience.
Often the time difference proves to be a challenge, if the school is in Europe they are quite a few hours behind us and if it is in the US it would be impossible. We were about to connect with a school in Japan when everything closed down and before that we shared with a classroom in South Korea.
Late last year when Empatico opened up again, I searched for a new match and was able to link our older classes up with a class in France. This has worked really well. The French students only speak in English once or twice a week, so our students are more fluent. Their teacher is very efficient and she does a lot of preparation beforehand. So far we have had three separate link ups. Students have shared what our school looks like and seen the school in France; they have talked about what they do in the school holidays and how they celebrate Christmas and done a powerpoint ‘tour’ of places of interest in each of the towns.
We have two laptops set up, so both sides can see the powerpoint presentation while students take turns to read the captions. That way we can make sure the French students understand what is happening. If necessary, their teacher explains vocabulary to them in French.
Here they are listening to one of the French students talking about a local event.
Here their students are sharing about a local lemon festival. Their school is in an old historic town in the north of France, so the slides are very colourful and interesting.
Our students also take turns to share about school and places of interest and local festivals, using a powerpoint.
In her last exchange, Laurence informed us that “In France we will be able to remove the masks in class on Monday 14th March, that will be for the next time.” So students will be a little more ‘face to face’. They are also going to be exchanging thoughts about food and what they eat at different meals. She added “There will be a lot of hamburger, fries and pizza at my place“.
That brings a smile to my face as those kinds of fast food are not available in Nongstoin. Children really don’t know what hamburgers are or hot dogs (although they may see them on cable TV) and the only fries they eat are homemade. As for pizza, a doctor friend once took a group of students for their first visit to a dentist in the capital many years ago and ordered some pizza for them from Domino’s. They picked all the cheese off it and obviously weren’t enjoying it, so he had to send out for fried noodles. That’s the only kind of fast food these children are accustomed to!
We look forward to another fun exchange of cultures next month, to broaden perspectives on both sides.