Our challenge was to develop Intercultural learning in the 21st century. Participating in an exchange program is expensive, and it takes a lot of courage to leave one’s family, school and friends, that is why we have to find other ways to become global citizens. Sometimes the cultural background does not encourage this initiative. This is why there is a need to build intercultural learning in a way that is accessible, fun, and low-cost, while also generating interpersonal connections through our everyday lives.
We propose to create opportunities for students through school projects focused on intercultural experiences that are inclusive and low-cost. A pen pal project where students from schools all around the world can communicate with each other through letter sharing (email or physical) and virtual meetings to create opportunities for students to learn about the global world through school projects focused on intercultural learning. For people who have no internet we propose the use of post as a way of communicating, and for people that have no internet and no post, we propose a volunteer goes to these schools to get all the letters, then he/she can go somewhere with internet, scan the letters and send them to these schools' partner.
Sustainability Our solution can be sustainable as it is economically feasible. Our goal is for students to learn about another culture and develop their understanding of the global world without going abroad. We need volunteers and students eager to participate. We are using the already established email and post, so it will be efficient.
Scalability We can start with a small group of schools and expand as we are successful. There is no limit in how many schools can participate around the world with the help of local AFS volunteers.
Innovation potential With a solution that involves everyone, the project is able to connect students, overcoming barriers such as financial issues, no internet, or no postal services in communities. We will give a structure for the activity and the participants, both students and teachers, so it will be a true intercultural learning.
The AFS angle: Global Competence Development We are bringing students to collaborate across cultural boundaries, developing global connections by putting an emphasis on interpersonal relationship building and gaining intercultural knowledge and sensitivity.
Social Value This project teaches values such as tolerance and respect for differences. It creates a network of students from different backgrounds. We have people connecting their cultures and learning about each other.
Implementation First we would communicate with students and schools that might be motivated by this initiative. With their ideas and the help of schools, AFS and volunteers we could create a plan of activities for the teachers and students. After that we will establish a pilot test with already collaborating schools and students from different countries. Once it works, we will organize the network of schools, propose letter templates for the schools to apply, include schools that have no internet or post through volunteers. We will have regular meetings with the schools to monitor the progress of the ongoing project.