Global classrooms came into existence in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent worldwide lockdown. All of us were forced to stay indoors and lead our daily lives with the help of the Internet.
Amidst such trying times, students connected and their teachers through video calls. This unprecedented situation showed us that the world is a village, and you do not have to physically move to a country to participate in an exchange program.
A standard cultural exchange program involves students traveling to an educational institution of a different nation to understand the different cultures and ways of living. However, with cultural competence programs held in global classrooms, students can collaborate with their peers from around the world while sitting in their classes.
These new-age cultural competence programs are designed to help the students connect and build interpersonal relationships with international students and develop their communication skills. In addition, these cultural competence programs enable the exchange students to understand and accept different cultures and backgrounds through collaboration.
With the help of their global peers, your students will learn about new cultures through the online platform, which will help them gain empathy and strengthen their cultural knowledge.
Most schools and universities today emphasize adopting virtual cultural competence programs for students to participate. These programs, in association with their state-mandated curriculum, ensure that the students get a wholesome education that will help them in their careers or higher studies. This stands true, especially for K-12 and STEM students.
Before we delve into why students must participate in cultural exchange programs, let us understand how cultural exchange programs started in the first place.
Student exchange programs first gained momentum in the 1960s after the end of World War II, when they were started to promote understanding and tolerance of different cultures. However, sending their child, who was still in school or college, to an unknown foreign country to learn about other cultures seemed scary and intimidating to some parents.
However, despite this mindset, more and more parents focused on the advantages of cultural exchange programs and encouraged their children to travel abroad.
An HSBC study in 2017 stated that 42 percent of parents were ready to send their children to a foreign country to continue their higher education. This was a significant rise from the 35 percent counted in 2016.
After World War I, the Institute of International Education was established in 1919 to promote understanding among nations and prevent such global catastrophic wars from occurring.
While the number of exchange students dropped drastically during WWII, programs gained popularity once the wars ceased. Since then, student exchange programs have persevered despite many hurdles and hindrances and continue to grow strong with each passing year.
Global cultural competence programs on digital platforms act as a melting pot where participants from various backgrounds and cultures participate. Your students will discover the similarities and differences between their global peers while participating in such programs.
Apart from learning about a new culture, these programs will also allow the students to learn and understand a person’s background to understand that we are all trying to navigate the maze of life.
This realization that they are not alone in the struggle is crucial for students as it will broaden their perspective and help them treat everyone as equal human beings regardless of where they come from.
Sharing and learning about cultures through cultural competence programsallows the students to become more receptive to trying new things. In addition, it broadens their mental horizon and makes them empathetic toward others.
The opportunity to explore a new culture and create bonds with peers will make them aware of something new and see and appreciate their own culture in a new way.
Teachers from different countries participate in cultural competence programs held in global classrooms. Each country and teacher has their way of teaching and instructing students.
Therefore, by participating in these programs, your students will be exposed to alternative styles of teaching that they can pass on to their peers and juniors. This exposure will not only enhance their learning experience but also help them teach others outside the classroom.
Studying with peers from dissimilar backgrounds and collaborating with them on projects despite these differences will build confidence in your students and help them adapt to new challenges and situations.
These experiences allow the students to become more flexible and work with new people seamlessly on projects.
Students have known their classmates and friends since they were kids. They know their background, habits, achievements, and many more things. In digital cultural competence programs, students meet and become friends with peers from other countries they have never met.
Forming these bonds and working together in the classroom will improve self-esteem and confidence among the students and help them sharpen their decision-making skills and independent thinking.
A well-designed cultural competence programhelps a student realize that a massive world outside their classroom walls is worth exploring. Through these programs, they not only develop exceptional communication skills but can also learn a new language.
Digital classrooms have brought the world to our fingertips, and now with just a few clicks, your students can enjoy the benefits of a cultural exchange program from the comfort of their classroom or home.
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