Many think that for global education, educators need to connect, communicate and collaborate with others overseas. However, within many of our local communities there is opportunity for cultural exposure and immersion. Here is one great example!
Several weeks ago, I was approached by an innovative Victorian Teacher Meli Panagiotidis from Kurunjang Secondary College. She was interested in bringing in other classes virtually to share their amazing day of cultural activities that she had organised for her school -Cultural Diversity Celebrations. Her ideas were to bring in an Asian and an Australian class(es) and wondered about making connections with someone in Asia and the best tool to use.
My suggestion was skype – for ease of use, comfort and widespread acceptance. To find Asian partners I suggested an amazing school in India, but unfortunately the times did not work. I offered a class from our school.
Prior to the Cultural Diversity Celebrations
- Meli’s technology teacher installed skype, created a user id for the school and added me as a contact.
- We tested the connections but it was dark in the initial position within the stadium where the celebrations were to be held. The connecting laptop had to be moved around until the lighting improved.
- We were to be projected up on to 2 big screens above the performers.
On the Day
A selection of Year 7 students came into the computer lab at 9:30am. We logged onto skype through my id, and once more tested the sound, visuals etc. The lighting was ideal and the sound was good. Students were reminded quite firmly of appropriate positioning, behaviour and good netiquette. We were introduced to the principal prior to the formalities. The Minister for Education was an invited guest.
Unfortunately, as the proceedings commenced, we faced some technical difficulties – the internet fell over at Kurunjang Secondary College. That rectified as the Minister was speaking. Then I pushed my laptop off button twice trying to get speakers setup for our sound! However, things then ran smoothly but we lost their sound somehow. My students had to experience what deaf people, do – visuals with no sound. However the students were highly engaged as the performers were often colourfully dressed, danced and used highly visual body motions. Each performance was of approx 10 mins. I gave students the option to return to their class but they were happy to stay. We saw the choirs, watched the Japanese Taiko Drummers, the Aboriginal Entertainment Experience, Indonesian and the Indian Cultural Performance.
Further activities included Cultural Performances from Italy, Africa, Macedonia, Chile, Bhutan, Samoa finishing with local primary schools choirs singing “We Are One”.
Students are asking whether we could do something similar in our school. This is a difficult call due to our geographical and cultural isolation but I wonder….. We nearly always go global but could we go local?
Some Global Days that would be great to celebrate cultures are:
- Cultural Diversity Day 21st May, 2016
- World Harmony Day 21st March, 2016
- International Friendship Day July 30th, 2016