Students from Gwanpyeong and Jijok Middle Schools in Korea, and their peers from St. Paul Public School in the United States came together on November 23 and December 7 for two interactive Live Class sessions. Special guests from IVECA alumni and educators were invited, and IVECA youth representatives from Lebanon, Morocco and the United States contributed to the cultural richness of these gatherings. This virtual rendezvous served as a conduit for these young minds to exchange views on their cherished traditions and share insights in preserving the cultural heritage of their home countries.
Korean students passionately presented a glimpse into their country's rich heritage. They introduced the enchanting world of Korean traditional games like Jwibulnori during the Lunar New Year, adorned in exquisite Hanbok attire, while also exploring the world of K-dramas that have captured global audiences by depicting universal aspects of everyday life and societal challenges. Additionally, they showcased the variety and flavors of Korean cuisine, enticing participants with culinary delights deeply rooted in Korean historical significance. Highlighting the international influence of their cultural treasures, particularly culinary arts, in fostering social cohesion, a Korean student suggested, “We should introduce where these foods come from, and add some menus which are adaptable to foreigners and take part in some festivals to have a chance to spread our foods.”
In the gathering on the American side, students eagerly demonstrated facets of their cultural identity. From the pulse-racing enthusiasm surrounding American sports to the sleek and iconic allure of American muscle cars, the presentations resonated with the students’ pride in their legacy. They also illuminated the important role of the Thanksgiving practice in American cultural and historical narrative, contributing to a global collage and appreciation of the unique elements that shape American society. IVECA’s U.S. alumnus shared his insight, “Our cultures reflect the beauty and diversity of our countries. Seeing the uniqueness that our cultures bring to the table can allow us to create global change. Starting in our own communities, together we can grow our impact on a global scale aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Through the Live Classes, students embraced diverse and similar cultures and felt the importance of international communications and mutual respect while preserving and valuing cultural legacies. An American student recognized differences in cuisine while acknowledging shared tastes in music and movies, “We wouldn’t be able to talk to people from other countries on any other platform. I learned [through IVECA] that we have some differences like with food, but we actually listen to a lot of the same music and watch the same movies.” These sessions underline diversity as a bridge towards a more cohesive and empathetic world community as students have laid the groundwork for a future where cultural treasures are not just explored but valued and integrated into a collective world story.
“It's great that we can exchange our culture and learn more about your culture. These virtual sessions promise to be an enriching experience, fostering cultural understanding and friendships that transcend borders. I'm looking forward to the chance to collaborate and learn from each other more,” said a Korean student reflecting on his semester-long experience.