Our students at Loyola Blakefield in (Baltimore, USA) worked with students in Muratori San Carlo (Modena, Italy) for several months to produce presentations related to social justice themes.
The Project Mo.Ba. An Intercontinental Dialogue was conceived after the pandemic caused by Covid 19 spread in Spring 2020 preventing the students from the high schools of Loyola and Muratori-San Carlo to travel for our Exchange Student Programs between the two schools in the United States and Italy. Instead of canceling the plans altogether, we were able to transform them into an intellectual, vibrant, cultural immersion through a series of video conferences. This international collaboration showed that we can create unity and can foster a love for learning about other cultures even when difficulties prevent us from being physically together.
Closely guided by four teachers and meeting virtually for five months via video conference, four groups of students (each group formed by 4 Americans and 4 Italian students) collaborated to research the following current social issues: Environmental problems; Social Justice and Human Rights; Racism and the Internet; Social Justice and Women in the Workplace. From October 2020 to March 2021, the individuals in each group shared their research and worked to prepare for a joint bilingual presentation. American students spoke and worked in Italian (their language of study), while the Italian students spoke and worked in English. This not only developed foreign language skills, but it also was a way of honoring the partner school’s cultural identity.
As a final project, on March 31, 2021, each group worked together to create four combined PowerPoint Presentations that were delivered live to both entire schools using the platform of Microsoft TEAMS. Teachers, administrators, and students from both schools learned how social issues affected Italy, the United States, and the broader global community.
It was a wonderful experience that highlighted the importance of embracing cultures, overcoming problems together, developing organizational and technological skills, and understanding social issues from a global perspective. More importantly, the experience cultivated mutual respect and a sense of friendship that crossed geographical borders.
Here are some students’ quotes:
“Though almost 4000 miles apart, Progetto Mo.Ba. allowed my classmates, Italian friends, and myself to view and learn about human rights on an international scale and how similar Italy and America are.”
“The opportunity to cooperate on a project with students from another continent was an eye-opening but also a joyful experience. While learning about the main topic of my project, human rights, I also gained further insight into what Italian culture is like. I made new friends that I will most likely remember for most of my life and learned many important things about cross-cultural communication.”
“It was a great experience to work with the Italian students and learn more about the history of women’s rights in Italy. It was also amazing to see how similar they are to us, American students.”
“Despite the time, language, and location difference, this project has allowed me to improve my Italian speaking and given me more insight about the Italian culture and even my own American culture. Through our discussions about problems with racism in both countries, we have formed friendships and came to a better understanding of each other’s culture.”
Teachers who organized the Project Mo.Ba. An Intercontinental Dialogue:
from Loyola Blakefield, Baltimore, USA: Dr. Rossana Barbera
from Muratori-San Carlo, Modena, Italy: Professors Enza Savino, Isabella Rossi, Patrizia Farneti