In November we highlighted a virtual exchange program called Soliya that connected college students from different religious and cultural backgrounds, promoting peace and dialogue.
The program was really interesting to me, and exciting, because it showed how much technology allows us to create connections that might never have been made otherwise. However, noticing that it was geared toward college students, I thought about how the classrooms I’ve personally worked in have featured a much younger student body. Could a virtual exchange of some sort be feasible for elementary, middle school, and high school students? Unless they live in a highly diverse society, many children don’t get the chance to make connections with people who perhaps think and look very differently than them until they are much older, if even at all.
I really appreciated then, the Do Remember Me program that seeks to connect students younger than college-age across the globe through workshops using recorded videos and Skype chats. Their Facebook page quotes their mission as this: “The workshops utilize technology to connect youth via SKYPE to invoke positive dialogue between the youth to dispel myths of hopelessness, media stereo types and cultural differences to delve deeper and find common ground, experiences and work toward actively supporting one another, encouraging activism and advocacy for issues such as peer violence, absence of leaders and heroes, and many other pressing issues.”
Take a look at this short 11 minute documentary on the project, entitled “The World Is As Big Or Small As You Make It.”
Many of us who are interested in teaching language and in promoting peace have colleagues and friends in different countries who want to do the same thing. How might we connect through technology to give our students chances to practice the language they are learning and to learn each other’s stories?