In the dynamic world of virtual education, IVECA orchestrated a cultural symphony that transcended geographical boundaries. At the end of the semester in late December 2023, students from Korea, India, and the United States were brought together to explore their countries' Histories of Migration and Colonial Legacies and Revolutions. This collaborative endeavor aimed to forge a meaningful link between the histories of migration and the colonial era, acknowledging them as interconnected facets in the overarching narrative of each country and of our shared global history. By delving into these narratives, students not only gained insights into their different cultural roots but also uncovered the universal threads that bind their stories together, such as shared struggles, resilience, and the quest for identity, fostering a sense of interconnectedness and shared understanding across borders.
Students in Korea, India and the United States set out on an exploration of their respective nations' migration and colonial history, spanning from the Joseon Dynasty to contemporary times. Meticulously, they examined historical events, such as the migration of Wiman and the impact of migration on Korea, and the arrival of the British, the battle of Plassey, and the Non-Cooperation Movement in India. They presented significant historical figures who shaped their countries’ destinies, contemplating the enduring legacies of colonialism. American students presented a diverse array of historical topics that resonated with the theme and explored the earliest migrations to the Americas, presenting theories such as the land bridge and coastal migration. Through these cross-cultural discussions, students looked into nuanced perspectives.
For instance, a Korean student shared a profound reflection on the varying perspectives and interpretations of history. "When I was taught about Vasco da Gama, I was taught that he was a great explorer who opened new routes. But after your presentation, I saw that people from the countries he sailed to thought he was an invader.” Furthermore, students from India were able to draw parallels between the reasons for colonization in both countries, such as the exploitation of land for minerals and other riches for the capitalization of the colonial power, and how the struggle for independence took a similar shape, with revolutionists and protesters facing hardships and violence in their fight. These sentiments illustrate the transformative nature of this exchange, moving beyond historical facts to exploring the diverse interpretations and impacts of historical events. Such discussions contribute to the development of intercultural knowledge and skills, fostering a comparative understanding of historical narratives and cultivating a global perspective that embraces cultural diversity and differing viewpoints.
From exploring detailed historical accounts, the narrative unfolded into a vibrant celebration, highlighting the rich and diverse cultural beauty each country contributed to the exchange. The martial artistry of Taekwondo, the soulful strains of a live violin, and the rhythmic grace of traditional Indian dance converged in a virtual celebration of cultural diversity. These performances underscored the power of art to transcend boundaries and foster unity while reflecting the cultural richness of each country.
Emotional and insightful letters exchanged among students spotlighted the value of this cross-cultural exploration. Students in Korea expressed gratitude for the meaningful exchange, recognizing the unity in diversity. “The connections we've forged serve as a powerful reminder of the beauty in diversity and the strength found in unity,” a Korean student said. Students from the United States acknowledged the enlightening perspectives shared by their Korean counterparts, “the information you provided shed light on the beautiful diversity that exists across different continents, exposing us to new perspectives.” Indian students highlighted the knowledge gained from exploring the colonial legacies of their country, “we understood that there is always a silver lining in the cloud and there are some good aftereffects of colonialism as well,” they shared.
As the curtain falls on these cultural exchanges and collaborative studies, IVECA continues to be a bridge of understanding, connecting young minds across continents. The impact of these experiences is not just in the historical knowledge gained but in the empathy cultivated and the realization that, as global citizens, their efforts to understand and celebrate diverse perspectives contribute to a more harmonious world. As one student from the United States put it, “we have gained valuable knowledge about different cultures but mainly developed a greater appreciation for diversity and the importance of cultural exchange.”