Student Interactions Develop Awareness of Environmental Problems
Throughout the spring semester, students across the world have come together to communicate through IVECA’s Virtual Classroom. These student interactions have enabled them to grow and learn from each other. Ultimately, the students have bonded by sharing each other's values, culture, and environmental problems.
As the relationship began, students took the opportunity to get to know each other. Culture was shared with pictures of food like Bungeoppang, a Korean snack with red bean paste inside fish shaped bread. Argentinian students shared their favorite dessert, dulce de leche. Through this exchange students found similarities in their daily life even though living far apart. One student noted, “I can’t believe we have the same hobby! I also like to read cartoon books and my major is animation design!! You can draw your own cartoons!!! You are really good! I have a feeling we are going to be good friends!!” As friendships grew, intercultural communication was enhanced. Many students bonded over their values, “Coincidentally, we share the same values. I also think happiness is a very important thing in life.” Through these interactions students came to find, the world isn’t so big after all.
An important topic of conversation this semester surrounded animal conservation and climate change. Students researched problems in their country’s environment and had the opportunity to share with their IVECA friends. When discussing the endangerment of Bottlenose Dolphins, a student expressed their dismay at the news, “I am very sad and sorry for the fact that it is endangered. I will help and get interested in them, too. I was grateful to know such cute animals and I will search for them more. Let’s make an effort to save each endangered animal!” It was beautiful that students took interest in other countries' problems by sharing empathy.
Additionally, students shared concerns about their community, “With the development of the economy and society, there are more and more high rise buildings. The traffic has been improved drastically. But the speedy development also brought a lot of pollution to this city. A lot of people still like the old city. Because health is most important, living in a place without pollution is the dream of the contemporary people.” Partners were able to understand the effects that industrialization has on the environment from a first hand account. With this new knowledge, students could share this in their home communities and educate others on environmental conservation.
By communicating on natural disasters such as forest fires, students understood the interconnectedness of the world and built a sense of solidarity to solve such issues. In response to his Indian partner, a Korean student commented, “In recent years, there have been lots of fire accidents in Korea too. I heard that many fire accidents are generated from humans' careless behaviors. So I think fire accidents are not only a domestic problem but international. We have to be careful to protect various creatures…”
Intercultural communication allowed students to see beyond their own countries and work together on common goals. Through the direct interactions with their global partners, students have realized that many other countries have similar problems while noticing different causes and impacts on their daily lives. Notably, students became open minded with diverse perspectives and found the internal motivation to make our world a better place.