One of my favorite parts about being a Peace Corps Volunteer is the opportunity participate in the world of cross cultural sharing through blogs, videos, presentations, and daily conversations in Peru. It is fun to explain that not all US citizens are rich, white, or super geniuses who have all the answers to life. I have also learned quite a bit about how sometimes we can come off as offensive, for example by calling ourselves “Americans” we are offending an entire continent of South Americans because we are essentially saying “North America is everything”. Right or wrong, it’s how a lot of people feel down here.
One day I was scrolling through Facebook and I realized how many of my college friends have gone on to be teachers, so I thought why not connect the kids and open a new channel of cross cultural sharing. The only problem was that postage is SUPER expensive and I didn’t have the kind of money needed to do a letter pen pal program, so we decided to try making short videos about the culture and different questions the students had for their peers across the world. (With super slow 3G as the only internet option, it took about three days to load each video to YouTube!)
With the high school entrepreneurship class I started each day with the video project and they LOVED it! The class clown even tried to solicit a North American girlfriend. The video pen pals were a class of students in Washington D.C. who were studying Spanish, so we communicated entirely in Spanish. The Spanish teacher also happens to be a RPCV from the first group of volunteers who re-entered Peru! Due to privacy issues, I can’t make the US videos public but here are the ones from my students in Peru.
After a successful few weeks of video exchanges with the high school seniors, I decided to talk to the local elementary school where I was doing a library reading campaign and see if they were interested! Of course the kids were all for it, and we had so much fun learning about the similarities and differences between the two cultures.
The kids is Peru were surprised to see a big cafeteria where every one eats lunch together, the huge library stocked full of books, and the giant yellow school buses that pick up and drop off all the students from their houses.
They were excited to see that we play soccer in the US too, and loved finding out that we study several subjects throughout the day just like in Peru.
The students in the US were amazed by the fact that no one had an xbox or internet in my town, and that some of the students ride donkeys to school. They were also surprised by the fact that in Peru guinea pig is a common dinner.
Finally, the high school English teacher approached me about doing an English Club after school for the 2nd graders and we decided to combine this with a video pen pal project with a 7th grade class in Katy, TX. The students practiced listening and responding to their peers in English! This was a special group of students because at the end of the school year I happened to be traveling home, to TX, so I was able to bring back hand written notes from the peers they had been video chatting with all year.
PS. If you are reading this via email, click on the title to open to the webpage version if you want to see the videos.