If a visitor walked into to this week’s Live Classes (December 2018), they would never have suspected that these students were strangers just three months ago. Teenagers spoke to one another over Zoom with the diction and poise of informed specialists, engaging in a friendly dialogue that demonstrated deep respect and cultural understanding in both parties.
After this fall semester courses integrated with IVECA, students from the US and Korea demonstrated that the collaborative work of intercultural communication is worth the effort and can create powerful relationships built on mutual respect and cooperation.
Students from Ohio and Gongju brainstormed solutions for local and international issues and shared their proposals with each other for evaluation. Students tackled potential answers to the issues raised in the #SDG’s set by the UN agenda of 2030. As Korea and the US shared their solutions, a rich conversation was created where each country was able to provide feedback on the solutions proposed and offer guidance in how to amend their responses so that each response is strengthened and better informed.
Over the course of three live class sessions, students from Butler Tech High School in Ohio and Hanil High School in Korea presented their semester’s work and research on solutions for Sustainable Development Goals 7, 13, and 15. These SDGs represent the UN’s commitment to finding answers to affordable and clean energy, climate action, and life on land, respectively. Students spoke intelligently and eloquently about ways these problems manifest in their daily lives, through things like deforestation, the rise of invasive species, problems of overconsumption, and the debate over renewable energies.
Debate naturally took place over the proposed solutions and challenges that arise in implementing them globally. Rather than arguing over their differences, the students’ dialogue demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of complex issues. As one student stated, “Having discussions and preparing projects on SDGs were, though a quite tough job to do, we could both inspire ourselves on global problems and widen the spectrum of our perspectives on global issues.” Students realized that intense serious discourse and questioning is necessary to create the most intelligent, scientifically-advanced solutions for our global problems.
A student representative from Korea put it plainly: “through these dialogues, we could understand each other more, established a close relationship between two different countries and become one ‘family,’ crossing the border of ‘friends.’” With stronger relationships built on respect and intercultural competence, there was nothing hindering nothing was hindering the final, inspired message – “It’s up to us to put these ideas into action!”