While studying a foreign language one of the objectives is to offer the students the possibility to feel that this is really necessary, that it will help them communicate with other people around the world, to let them “taste” it. With the students from the primary school who don’t speak English at home, have it in the school timetable only twice a week and know few words to be able to set a conversation it seems impossible. Still it is worth trying. It can for sure be successful. We did it with the help of Global School Alliance, a school from India and a primary one from Indonesia.
In this article, I will try to share our wonderful experience with the hope that it will be useful for other schools, teachers and of course students.
My collaboration with Global School Alliance (GSA) started a couple of years ago, during the pandemics, at an international training when I saw a presentation about it. Being interested in what they offered, wonderful opportunities for teachers, schools and students, I became its ambassador, taking part in the conferences and webinars they were organizing, meeting teachers from different countries, listening to the experience of educators from all over the world and trying to share mine.
The Global School Alliance unites passionate educationalists from around the world, more than 120 countries, more than 5000 members(schools), more than 3000 ambassadors (teachers), under the common goal of providing global learning for students. By combining online collaboration and immersive experiences members can develop transformational international partnerships. The alliance is free to join for all schools to become members and teachers to become ambassadors. Its members converge from all corners of the world to collaborate on the on-line platform (globalschoolalliance.com) and connect through student exchanges and delegations.
The more I was part of it the more I found it useful not only for me and my students but for other teachers, schools and students as well. In September 2021 I became an ambassador PRO of it and I could promote it all over the country. Together with Toni Camilleri, Development Manager at Global School Alliance, we presented it to the teachers in Moldova at the Teachers’ Ideas Fair organized by META NGO on September 17th, 2021.
In August 2021, we registered our interest to take part in the first joint project on the Global School Alliance platform. Still it took us quite a lot of time to find an international partner but we didn’t quit the idea. From August 2021 till January 2022 we were attentive at all the partner requests on GSA platform, sending our interest, getting and sending messages to lots of schools all over the world. We found primary schools in Great Britain, Turkey, Tunisia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and so on interested in a project with us but we were not successful in starting one because of the different timings of our schools, vacations the children had and many other facts. February was a marvelous month for us as we found two schools from two different parts of the world that accepted to be our partners and develop interesting on-line projects with our students.
The first to share is the project with Delhi Public School from Lava, Nagpur, India. The idea came from Shahnaaz Ojha, Social Science and English Educator at this school who saw our call on GSA platform. As they had already had previous experience with international projects they came with a ready made plan for what we were to do. The invitation was to take part in a Story Telling project. The story should be from the culture of the country. During an online session every country was to present its story for about 20 minutes each, afterwards informal interactions between the students for about 20 minutes. The idea was great but keeping in mind that young students were involved in the project, that they get tired of staying on-line for a long time and they need to change activities very often we agreed to make two different sessions. At the first one the children from India had to present their country, their story and answer questions about their school, hobbies, and so on, in some two weeks the Moldovan school had to come with a reply.
As the plan was made we started to work on it. The group of children aged ten started to realize the idea. We chose to present the legend of Mărţişor. As the number of children in our group was quite big (30 students), we offered the children the possibility to take some roles, 15 children had to comment on the slides we prepared together. They were about our country, the capital, the school, the legend and all the traditions of Mărţişor. The other 15 had to write questions for our Indian friends. A month before the event we gathered mărţişoare and sent them to India as a surprise for the children that were going to listen to our story telling.
The first session was on the 10th of March. The children from the primary school-kindergarten nr.152 Step by Step, Chişinău, Moldova met the students from Delhi Public School from Lava, Nagpur, India. We were delighted to see a nice presentation of the country and a part of “Vikram Betal”-an Indian story. The question-answer session offered the children the possibility to involve in a discussion about the two countries that took part in the event. The children were curious to find out more about the countries, the food and the schools. The time spent together flew too fast and the children said goodbye to each others waiting for the next session. Although the Moldovan students are beginners in speaking English they tried to do their best.
On the 21st of March, we were to present our country, our school and of course, the story. The children were happy to see their new friends again and continue the discussion. The information we presented was new for the Indian students and as they mentioned, they enjoyed it a lot. Still the most important was not the presentation but the discussion afterwards. We were happy that the children felt more comfortable than at the first meeting, they were not afraid of asking questions and of course answering them. The interaction between the children was as if they knew each others for a long time. The communication helped them feel at ease and they smiled, made jokes and enjoyed the time spent together. It was quite difficult to end the meeting as the children didn’t want to say goodbye to each others. We agreed to keep in touch and to have other meetings in future.
The project was a success as the children mentioned afterwards. They appreciated the possibility to meet new people, to practice speaking and to discover new places. The parents who saw the posts about it on our Facebook page, thanked the organizers, and were happy for the opportunity their children have been offered. Both parents and children said they would love to continue exploring new places and meeting new people.
To continue the project and our trip around the world we found a new partner in Indonesia. This time we were happy to meet the students from Al Azhar 30 Islamic Primary School. Ahmad Sugianto, their teacher wanted us to have six meetings during a longer period of time where the children from the two schools could speak about the 4 P’s element’s of culture (products, people, practices and perspectives). As our schools have different timings, the time difference between our countries is five hours and the children from Moldova have a three months vacation in summer we had to change the initial idea and met twice during a month.
At the first meeting, on the 15th of March, the Moldovan children presented their country, the capital, the school, Moldovan food, and some facts about the culture of our country. Other 30 children were involved in this project. In such a way we offered the possibility to more children to see the power of speaking a language that is understood all over the world. The children were so interested in it and they were ready to exercise their presentation every day. Most of them were conscious that they are representing a country that is not well-known for the Indonesian students. We were very surprised at the end of our presentation that our new friends remembered the name of the capital and of our school even in Romanian.
The second meeting brought us closer to a beautiful country- Indonesia. Due to the students from Al Azhar 30 Islamic Primary School we could enjoy our virtual trip there, we saw its marvelous places, its fauna and flora, we saw the difference between the climate of our countries. The children discovered that Indonesia has only two seasons and that children start school early in the morning and finish the lessons at 10.30. The Moldovan pupils envied the Indonesian ones for this but none of them agreed to get up at about 5 o’clock in the morning to go to school. The school in Indonesia is different from the Moldovan one, the timetable and even the afterschool activities. All the differences the children found made them more interested to discuss and to explore it. The information presented was colorful and well explained. The students from the two schools enjoyed the presentation and the discussion that followed. The two meetings were a success because not only the students were very active but also the Moldovan and Indonesian teachers got totally involved. They encouraged the students, helped when needed and even recited poems or sang songs from the culture of their country. This event can’t be seen only as a project but as a friendship that was built due to it. Hope to continue it as we agreed while saying goodbye.
At the beginning, it seemed difficult to set international partnerships, but while we started we can’t stop. At the moment the STEM School Skadu Pakistan that found us the most apt school to partner with, wants to set a project together. So we are trying to do our best and continue. Still we keep in touch with our friends from India and Indonesia and want to make new meetings as soon as possible. An international project is much time and work but a lot of satisfaction as well, for the teachers involved, for the students and for their families. We want to thank all people that took part in them, the students from the three schools, Delhi Public School from Lava, Nagpur, India, Al Azhar 30 Islamic Primary School, Indonesia, the primary school-kindergarten nr.152 Step by Step, Chişinău, Moldova, the teachers Shahnaaz Ojha from India and Ahmad Sugianto from Indonesia, Tatiana Draghici, Tatiana Savin, Diana Budu from Moldova and of course Global School Alliance for the opportunity and the help. Together we can do beautiful things.