A cultural exchange opens students’ eyes to the relevance of learning a language, sparks curiosity and creates mutual understanding. Traveling to a country where the language is spoken would be ideal but it is not always possible for all of our students. At Cheverus we have access to the extensive international network of Jesuit schools, the largest global educational network, that we can connect with virtually.
Last week, a group of students studying Spanish took time during Community Period to interact with students from Colegio San José de Villafranca de los Barros in Badajoz, Spain via video conferencing.
This summer, Spanish teacher Laura Cholod met a teacher at this school through educatemagis.com, a website that aims to nurture a vibrant online community connecting educators from Jesuit and Ignatian schools around the world. As Jesuit schools, Cheverus and Colegio San José de Villafranca de los Barros share one mission.
Ms. Cholod and her Spanish colleague decided to integrate the heart of the four Universal Apostolic Preferences, pillars that will direct the mission of the Society of Jesus over the next 10 years, to this virtual exchange program. To break this down into three tangible goals for this coming year, the teachers decided to follow this framework for the student communication between the two schools:
REFLECT – Who am I? Students introduce themselves through written letters that are peer-edited and uploaded to a shared “padlet” wall.
SHARE – Share about your school. Our students were asked about the parts of Cheverus life that they are most proud of and these attributes inspire them to be a “people for and with others,” what their dreams are, and what God-given talents they have been blessed with.
DISCERN/ACT – How can students use talents and abilities to give back to the world? Students were asked to share how they can be “people for and with others” and strengthen bonds with students from Jesuit schools around the world.
Ms. Cholod started with a geography lesson. Students first located the school on a map. Badajoz is a city in southwest Spain, close to the border with Portugal. Students then wrote letters of introduction to the students at our sister school. Last week, the students were able to 'meet' their peers via a video conference. “It was a thrilling day because we were able to see, hear, and speak with our new friends in Spain for the first time!” said Cholod. “The excitement and anticipation on both sides of the experience exceeded our expectations.”
Cholod hopes to continue the interaction with the Colegio San José de Villafranca de los Barros over the course of the school year.