With great enthusiasm and joy, our global community has witnessed and accompanied many Jesuit schools in their efforts to deepen their global dimension and provide the students with knowledge and experiences that will seek to help them become global citizens. We have witnessed a great commitment and interest from these schools, in different Global Citizenship training programs and global experiences. For instance, participation in our online Global Citizenship course has had an impressive response amongst our global community turning it to be the most popular course on Educate Magis.
As some of you know, there are many approaches, tools, and experiences that can help your school deepen its global dimension. Many of you have been doing a splendid work at your schools: for instance, by participating in global projects, taking Global Citizenship courses, etc. However, if we would have to choose one essential skill for our students and ourselves as instructors, to be mastered in order to become Global Citizens, this would be communication, specifically, intercultural communication.
In order for us to engage in global collaboration and build meaningful relationships with others we must learn to communicate effectively within and across cultures. Fr. General Arturo Sosa speaks about the importance of interculturality, and it is indeed listed as one of the 10 Global Identifiers of a Jesuit School in A Living Tradition:
Ideally, each human being, or each people, should feel like a part of humanity, and be aware of their own culture (enculturation), without making it absolute. They should do so critically, joyfully acknowledging the existence of other human beings with different cultures (multiculturality), and establishing relationships of equality with them, enriching themselves with a diversity of cultures that includes their own (interculturality)”. A Living Tradition n.232, n.233
As a response to this need, in our global community, we developed a training program in Intercultural Communication. The first pilot of this Ignatian Intercultural Training Module was presented in November and December of 2020 as a series of five (5) virtual training sessions spread out over 5 weeks. Each session took an hour long and included a mixture of personal reflection, group sharing modelled on Ignatian Spiritual Conversations and written worksheets.
This year, 2021, we decided to launch a second pilot involving students through Connected Classrooms. An opportunity for students to reflect on their own identity and how it can influence their biases, as well as learn some of the concepts and skills behind effective cross-cultural communication. The programme offers students an opportunity to practice these skills with their peers from other countries. We also wanted to have an idea of how an initiative like this would be like for both students and teachers in a classroom setting.
The session involved a presentation by the facilitators and a 45-minute group discussion for students, moderated by the participating educators. The students had the opportunity to participate in engaging group discussions with students from other parts of the world, using the method of spiritual conversations and sharing on the ” Diversity Wheel” activity, and specifically about the elements that influence their identity and share it with peers from other parts of the world. The agenda of the session was:
- Welcome and Opening Prayer
- Interculturality within Jesuit Education
- Spiritual Conversations
- Discussion groups
- Plenary discussion
The facilitators of these Connected Classrooms were Josephine Vassallo, Jimena Castro and Pedro Rissafi. They all participated in the first pilot of the project. There were over 90 participants coming from 14 schools in 8 different countries: Spain, The Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Chile, Italy and Guatemala,
The sharing of both the students and educators was very enriching and inspiring. The participants were delighted with the opportunity to connect at a deeper level with their peers from other parts of the world, and really enjoyed every minute of the session:
Today’s connected classroom on Intercultural Communication was an unforgettable opportunity in which students from different parts of the world could talk and see that no matter how far they are, they still have many things in common and share the same points of view. Students and educators learned a lot from this amazing exchange of experiences.” Juliana Brundo, Colégio Anchieta Porto Alegre
“It’s been a delightful experience to let my students feel the global citizenship by sharing with others. I started these global connections 4 years ago and definitely my peers around the world have made great impact on my actual teaching giving me new perspectives towards work and life. I do want also my students to feel the same.” David Chamorro Pereira, Colegio San Ignacio Alonso Ovalle
We would like to thank all the participants and facilitators for such an engaging and inspiring sessions, and we hope we can host more Connected Classrooms like these in the future.