Learning about different cultures and countries can take many shapes and forms. Informative videos, books, and other tools are great ways to introduce children to these topics. However, for the IVECA elementary students from Daejeon, Korea and Washington D.C. and California in the United States, this experience was different. Through their IVECA Live Class, students took their partner school friends on an exciting journey to virtually visit their country for a day.
To welcome their friends from overseas, students presented their plans for thematic parties in attractive locations full of cultural activities, famous music and dance, and local foods. Students did not limit their creativity or hold back when deciding on the specifics of their parties. With the Fourth of July theme, American students planned their party at the White House and paired the celebration with fireworks, burgers and hotdogs. The group explained proudly, "The 4th of July is about how America gained its independence and the White House represents our country". The Korean students decided to take their American friends to the Amsa General Market in Seoul, where they could taste various local delicacies such as bibimbap and pork cutlet.
A popular destination among Korean students was Lotte World, Korea's most famous amusement park, where their peer visitors would try Tteokbokki (spicy rice cake) and Odeng (hot fish-cake soup) and watch the night parade. "It is a good place to make memories," said a Korean student. Their American partners chose the "Golden Corral" buffet as a destination because "there are many foods from around the world and here in America it is very diverse," presenting to their friends the values and principles of their culture. American students were also invited to spend the day at the Jeonju Hanok Village dressed in the traditional Korean costume, Hanbok, and have Kimbap and Samgyeobsal (grilled pork belly).
After the lively presentations, students shared what they liked the most about each other's cultures. An American student expressed, "The traditional clothing was amazing and very pretty," and their Korean peers were fascinated by their food. To top off the cultural party day, students provided dynamic performances for their friends. From demonstrating Taekwondo and Samulnori (traditional percussion music instruments) by the Korean students, to singing "Jingle Bells" and dancing to K-pop music by the American students, the performances were followed by continued cheering and clapping.
Students, teachers, and principals exchanged their farewells, echoing how enjoyable and educational the semester had been and how they learned not only about their partner school countries, but about theirs as well in this global partnership. "I had so much fun learning about Korea. I hope you had a fun time learning about my country." Korean students added their appreciation for their virtual learning opportunities. "Even though we didn't see each other [in person], you guys I met [virtually] on the IVECA site were very bright, full of energy, and fun friends. I was thrilled every day… learned a lot of interesting facts about American culture."