Exchanges in Action

One of our favorite types of exchanges to manage at Know My World is across the social and cultural differences of age groups. During the January to June 2017 EveryWorld Initiative, high school students from Pekanbaru, Indonesia and home-schooled 5th grade students from Delaware, USA, connected to address the refugee crisis and it’s impact in both regions of the world.

The main project goals for this exchange were to raise an awareness of the refugee experience in the United States and Indonesia, and enhance the research skills of the students. Over the course of six weeks, participants truly realized these goals and fostered a greater social connection between the students and their local communities. The students started the project by researching refugee demographics and public policy in their respective countries. They then conducted interviews and discussions with refugees, or people interacting directly with refugees, in their communities. The students from Indonesia even created transcripts of their interviews that they translated into English. The exchange concluded with a video conference in which the students compared and contrasted their findings of the refugee experience in the United States and Indonesia.

“Our project was about refugees. When our class read the interviews of the refugees and the locals taken by Dewi’s students, we felt that we all are on the same page. We all understand and appreciate kindness and empathy. Everyone wants to be giving to the one who are less fortunate. The best part was that the less fortunate weren’t born in those circumstances! And though they are being tried and tested; they have a heart to give and share and do good work and give back to the communities they are relocated in. As humans we yearn to belong. If that choice is taken away from us we don’t just faze away we become more determined and consciously make an effort to rebuild ourselves.” – Iram, Teacher, Delaware, USA

 

An important and compelling part of this process was the age difference between the two classes. The Indonesian students were at a high school level and the U.S. students were are at a primary school level. However, both sets of students were able to conduct an impressive amount of research, share their ideas effectively, and contribute to the exchange equally. The 5th graders work was shared via video interviews and live Skype sessions. This lead to a genuine connection and a fuller understanding of the refugee experience around the world for everyone involved. As an educator, this was a great reminder that multi-generational learning is something to be celebrated!