They talked about the things teenagers usually do–music, movies, clothes, school, social media. What made these conversations different was that the teens are still learning each other’s language and culture.
Students in Maria Zelaya’s Spanish language classes at Eastside High School recently had an opportunity to chat with students in an English language academy in Guadalajara, Mexico over Skype. Groups of six or seven Eastside students gathered around laptops in the school’s media center, sharing information, opinions on pop culture and a lot of laughs with their Mexican peers. It was a chance for students on both sides of the border to hone their foreign language skills and broaden their cultural horizons.
“One of our major goals is the exchange of ideas,” said Zelaya. “For example, my students were asking about community service in Mexico and about projects they might be able to do together. They’re learning they can work together, even though they’re from different countries and cultures.”
“It’s good for my students to practice their English,” said Miriam Gazca, teacher at the Mexican school called Bilingual Kids. “But it’s also interesting for them to learn how life is different there and how it is the same.”
Zelaya is among just 82 teachers nationwide who were chosen by the U.S. State Department to participate in the Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program during this school year. The program gives teachers the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. to meet with other educators and attend professional development sessions on global education. Zelaya will also be traveling to Colombia in South America this summer as a U.S. Teacher Ambassador for the State Department.
The goal of the TGC program is to promote global education in secondary schools throughout the nation. Zelaya says that’s critical for today’s students.
“We’re so interconnected, even if we’re in different countries,” she said. “When they go to find a job after college, they’ll will have to work with people from other countries, so exposing them to this is a first step toward making them world citizens.”
“It definitely makes me a lot more open-minded and more aware of what’s going on around the world,” said Eastside junior Siyah Yongue. “I don’t want to know just what’s happening in America, but also what’s happening in Mexico and Australia and other places.”
For more information, contact:
Maria Zelaya or Jeff Charbonnet — (352) 955-6704