Students from India and Korea joined together in their first live class of the semester on the 28th of April. Elementary teachers prepared their young students to introduce themselves to international partners. Furthermore, students were able to ask each other questions to learn more about their new IVECA friends. Students took this opportunity to find similarities between their countries as well as recognize the difference in cultural traditions. This first Live Class experience allowed a face to face connection between schools before students begin their IVECA group projects.
As students joined the live virtual meeting room, each child patiently waited to see their partner's name on the screen. After all, students had only spoken with their partner over written text in IVECA’s virtual platform. When the session began, each student introduced themselves with excitement. They spoke enthusiastically to their IVECA friends while sharing something they enjoy every day. A Korean student introduced himself by sharing his hobbies, “Bug catching, Origami Folding, taking care of my pets: two turtles, a betta fish, and another betta fish I adopted yesterday!” Throughout the session, students found similarities between each other. Many value spending time outside in their communities' natural environment. Additionally, students could connect over their love of animals and share their passion for taking care of their pets.
Thrilled to interact with their partners, students curated questions to create discussion. A Korean student, unfamiliar with Indian customs, asked his partner, “Does your country have a tradition of eating food with your hands?” The Indian partner replied by sharing a tradition he feels proud of, “... yes, eating with our hands is a tradition for us Indians. We eat with our hands for many reasons. . . First reason is when we eat with our hands the brain gets a message that we are eating food then tells the stomach that we are going to eat something so the stomach is ready to digest. The second reason is that all our 5 fingers represent the 5 elements of nature. . . the final reason is that when you eat with your hand you can find out if the food is hot or cold. Because when you eat with a spoon you might not know it is hot and you might put it in your mouth and it’s burning. Thank you for listening!” The student’s tone of speech and facial expression reflected how proud he was of his country’s tradition. The effort of communication students displayed with their international counterparts fostered a meaningful connection between them as providing an opportunity to learn and respect differences in cultures.
These young IVECA participants began to create memories with their new IVECA friends. Their motivation to share about themselves and their lives helped them connect through common interest and appreciate cultural diversity while valuing their own traditions. As the IVECA program continues, students will learn further about what they can contribute to living together in harmony from these intercultural interactions.