Exchanges in Action

During the Spring semester, Graduate Students in the Dynamics of Planned Change course at the State University of New York, Masters of Professional Studies Program, engaged in The Sharability Project with 5th grade students at the American School of Taichung. Both classes had a unique experience, using character education, social, emotional and cultural literacy to identify global issues, and link cultures and ages to create a shared awareness. The were first reluctant and shy to exchange in such a large age group. Many participants experience this apprehension, but when they maintain an open mind, discover that they are involved in a unique learning experience. The Sharability Project  is tiered in such a way where students feel ownership and a part of this greater awareness project. Both classes were amazed at the commonalities found, and remarked about how equitable and distinct the awareness level was between such a huge age gap.

5th Grade students in Taiwan created Comic Books featuring a global issue narrative. These students explore pollution.

Graduate Students in New York created stories via video and a book to discuss the global issue of hunger. Read Story…

Hunger is an issue present in every country around the world.

Hunger is an issue present in every country around the world.

Both classes shared the visual maps made to explore the commonalities of the project…

Students in Taiwan discuss the common themes and realize the impact of each story.

Students in Taiwan discuss the common themes and realize the impact of each story.

Students in New York map out the common themes and impact of the stories.

Students in New York map out the common themes and impact of the stories.

Students and educators shared with each other and Know My World some of the impressions made.

Taiwan Class: “I like the Johnny story and how it teaches you a lesson and to get you ready for what might come in your life. It makes you remember what to do when you have this kind of dilemma.” -J
“The two boys went to the forest to see a world that was completely accepted. But the boy with the glasses wanted to show them this can be for everyone. Not just them. They needed to go back and face problems to help others accept it all.” -M
“The students had opportunities to discuss their thoughts, ideas, and areas of difficulty understanding but also were able to verbalize their experiences and ideas through visual art. This became extremely powerful to connect their experiences not only with their peers but with students in the US studying at the Masters level. Their collaborative projects include a creative twist in creating a comic book character who faced a global issue and who either succeeded or failed. It didn’t matter. What mattered what how they faced the issue and the ‘out of the box’ thinking that character was able to do to try to make a difference. Students were able to identify major underlying global problems which are in today’s societies. They were able to feel ‘outside of their comfort zone’ to problem solve issues larger than themselves. They could feel the pain and discomfort individuals face through their own empathy and cultural awareness that topics are not black and white. Below are some comments which strongly portray their logic, feelings, and emotions. It was a transformative experience for all.” -Ms. S
New York Class: “I enjoyed working on this project.  At first I felt hesitant when starting off with the project.  I was hesitant to fully invest myself into this project and work on it with a group of people who I just met, because there was a level of vulnerability that I needed to have.  To be vulnerable to share personal experiences with one another, and to people who you are just getting to know and do not have a certain level of trust yet.  While we were going through sharing of our experiences, we were able to build a closer relationship, and through our conversations be able to organically come up with the issue we wanted to address for the project.  Reflecting on this experience, I do believe there is a certain amount of risk that I or anyone needs to take in order to take a step to attempt to create change in society, as well as a level of vulnerability.  Overall, even though I was hesitant to work and share a part of my life with others, I’m glad I did, and am hopeful that the issues our class addressed can foster dialogue.”  -Kevin
“The process of coming up with our group story was quite amazing. We all discussed a time when we stood up for something we believed in. The result of this conversation was magical. We identified common words and themes and came up with a mega story. Our mega story is titled “A Friendly Food Chain” which focused on social class. What was even more amazing was the work of our partners across the globe! The stories of these leaders were amazingly insightful, fruitful, and creative. I am so grateful that I got an opportunity to be a part of this experience.” -Kimberly
“It was a wonderful and enlightening experience to see the stories from the children in Taiwan and a pleasure to be a part of that experience!  What I found most fascinating is that no matter our ages and no matter where we are in this world we do have some of the same concerns.” -Valerie
“I am struck by the depth, honesty and insight of the student reflections, and impressed with the conceptual mapping – both K’s skillful use of it and the outcomes.” -Professor Murray