|Anthropology class participates in online cultural exchange|
|Tuesday, November 26, 2019|
There’s a little bit of Pirate Pride 7,645.56 miles away at Taichung Municipal Beishi Junior High School in Taiwan.
Students in Ms. Katherine Korte’s Anthropology class at Pattonville High School are participating in an 8-week online cultural exchange with students in Taichung, Taiwan. The Teddy Bear Project is facilitated by iEARN, an international education non-profit.
“Their mission is connecting schools in the United States with schools all over the world,” Korte said. “I just put ‘Hey, anyone interested in doing this project with me?’ on the forum, and the first response I got was from a school in Taiwan.”
Once paired, classes send each other a teddy bear and share messages online as if they are the visiting bear describing its experiences in the new culture.
“At the beginning of the project, we sent them a package and they sent us a package,” Korte said. “We got a cat named Lo and we sent them a teddy bear which we named Dwayne.”
Korte said students are responsible for creating three posts and writing at least eight comments during the unit so there’s some dialogue back-and-forth between the students from Beishi Junior High School.
“This project really fits in nicely with our unit on culture where we try to build global competencies,” Korte said. “I really want kids to be engaged and curious about the world, and allow kids to practice cross cultural communication.”
Exchange topics include Life at School, Life at Home, Life in the Community, Holidays, and general reflection.
Junior Zidclary Soler Soto was assigned the topic of Life at School. She took Lo to the high school swimming pool and created a post about studying for a class.
“I took Lo to the pool because I wanted to show them that we have a pool at our school for activities like sports and physical education,” she said. “Then I took a picture of Lo studying with me for an Anthropology test and I wrote on Facebook about how we use Quizlet to help us study.”
The class set up a calendar and the kids have Lo for about three days and they are responsible for making posts to the Facebook group during that time. Junior Mycah Hall is taking Lo home over Thanksgiving weekend.
“I can't wait to show him what kind of food we eat because my mom is going to make her hash brown casserole, and I’m going to show them how we don't eat stuffing for Thanksgiving because we call it dressing,” she said. “I can't wait to show them all the food we eat, how we just kick it on a holiday and have fun. Like, I’m so excited. I can't wait.”
The goal of this project is for young people to develop inquiry skills, empathy, cross-cultural communication skills and better understanding of diverse perspectives, and Soler Soto said learning about their educational system has been really interesting.
“They stay in one classroom the whole day like we do for elementary school. It’s actually the teachers that move around from class-to-class,” she said. “I wouldn’t like that. I don’t want to be stuck in a class with the same people all day long.”
For topics like Life in the Community, Hall said she noticed the students in Taiwan have a Metrolink system like the one in St. Louis.
“I’ve kind of been noticing that Taiwan is almost a lot like the U.S. I wasn’t expecting that,” Hall said. “It’s really neat because we’re kind of making this big world a little smaller.”
In December, they’ll do a reflection piece and draw some conclusions about the exchange.
“We should be mailing our bears back to each other at the end of the process,” Korte said. “When we do that, we get to put in little artifacts and notes and letters in the package as another way of connecting the students.”