A fun exchange

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.


12 thoughts on “A fun exchange

  1. I LOVE playing Mystery Skype with my students and another class elsewhere in the world. It is so enriching and generates meaningful discussions. Living on the West coast of Canada, I’ve been limited to connecting with classes in North America, South America, New Zealand and Australia.
    My district doesn’t permit the use of FlipGrid otherwise I’d be using that platform to connect with other classes that don’t align with my time zone.
    Making these global connections solidifies for students that we are ‘same same but different.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very non-computer literate, so not sure what FlipGrid is…but will check it out! It is especially important for my students to realise that in developed countries we don’t all live like the characters in fairy tale cartoons, like Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. Some of them honestly think we all live in palaces!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Empatico sounds like an example of how the internet can work to create a global community instead of global dissension. That’s certainly how you and your colleagues are using it. I loved reading this—and the photos are awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading. Empatico is American based, but not sure how I came across it. The platform they use works well almost all the time and they provide possible match ups from all over the world.


  3. What fun that must be! And I have a question: I think you are back in Australia – are you also connected with your school in India? That must be a real challenge – I’m so glad those students have you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Amanda!
      Yes, we are in Australia and I connect most days with different classes and students via zoom and we also have a weekly staff meeting. We usually have a good connection too which is great. Hopefully we will get back later in the year… there’s a whole new class of students I haven’t met face to face yet!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely fascinating, coloring each other’s world with culture and language and, of course, food! This broadening of horizons does exactly what I suspect Empatico means to do – fostering empathy and appreciation in addition to knowledge. Even without cheese on the pizza. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Fran.
      Yes, Empatico does exactly that and seems to do a great job for free!
      It comes from one of those words in Spanish and French (sympathique) that doesn’t translate well into English, because it has so many shades of meaning that don’t come across…one of those rare examples where another language is more expressive (in my opinion anyway!). It conveys all those shades of relating and connecting that being ’empathetic’ doesn’t quite convey.


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