Holistic integration of global learning throughout Guatemalan classrooms

By: Ms. Helen O’Neal, Teacher at Colegio Americano del Sur, Guatemala

The Colegio Americano del Sur (CAS) grade 7 class presented their projects on Human Life and the Environment on June 21st, 2017.  Our IVECA class partnered with Boram Elementary School in Korea. The work of the students was supported by teachers Ms. Sanha Lee from Boram Elementary and Mr. Edgar Caniz, Ms. Ema Hernandez, and Ms. Helen O’Neal from CAS. For our live class presentation, each student group researched a different technological innovation, examining the innovation’s positive and negative aspects. The class focused on the similarities and differences between our two countries’ daily activities and impacts on the environment. The IVECA course encouraged our students to examine possible solutions to our impact on the environment from a local and global perspective. Our IVECA program lasted three months and included topics integrating language arts, social studies, and science.

Our middle school English teachers collaborated on the extended classroom project. The IVECA program facilitated horizontal alignment within our existing curriculum. Ms. Hernandez, our English Language Arts teacher, focused her students’ work on different stories and narratives addressing her curriculum objectives such as text and author analysis. Ms. Hernandez tells us, “Students wrote a narrative about life at CAS in which they expressed how happy they feel to be part of this school.” Working on the assignments, students were able to build upon prior knowledge and activate prior skills to complete each topic. Also, the program integrated technology, making use of 21st-century skills within the classroom. The variety of topics and integration of technology provided an appealing platform for students to work and interact with their Korean partners.

IVECA motivated our CAS students to participate and to collaborate within groups and with students from different Korean cultures.  The topics of the IVECA course were interesting and relevant to the students. In English Language Arts, the students analyzed characters and techniques of local narratives such as Rigoberta Menchu and La Nina de Guatemala. “Rigoberta is one of the most important characters of modern Guatemala. La Nina de Guatemala is one of the most well-known poems due to its relation to historical events,” Ms. Hernandez explains. The science projects, led my Mr. Caniz, pushed students such as Juan Ignacio, to take responsibility and lead his group to completion. The projects researched local Guatemalan innovations such as “biobardas,” plastic barriers that protect riverbeds. The topic of technological innovations encouraged students to explore further ideas to protect the environment. Mr. Caniz adds, “Something really interesting was that many of our grade 7 students were surprised to find out that in Guatemala, as well as Korea, there are many people who have invented technological innovations that have helped our world.” Leaders emerged from each group and the students worked to their fullest potential. It was a unique experience for our students to share and discuss these topics with their peers across the globe in Korea.

Finally, the farewell activities demonstrated our students’ talent and enthusiasm for their local culture. Each class, from Guatemala and Korea, presented a performance reflecting the history and traditions of our country. Korea presented the traditional Korean sport of Taekwondo and choreographed a modern K-Pop dance. CAS student Ligia played the national instrument of Guatemala, the marimba, while students danced in Guatemalan dress and presented traditional flags. Ms. Hernandez adds, “Marimba music is so beautiful. Guatemalans are very proud of it.” This performance was followed by a skit, the conquest of the Maya by the Spanish invaders in Guatemala, directed by student Luis. These activities featured our students in a personal and fun way, bringing our cultures closer together through art, performance, and music. Overall, the IVECA experience provided our students and teachers at CAS with a memorable and productive experience!

Throughout the IVECA course, our students and teachers made meaningful connections. Connections were made across our middle school curriculum and across the world with our partners and friends in Korea. The IVECA platform facilitated the sharing of our students’ projects; meanwhile, our students practiced their 21st-century technology skills and abilities. The Colegio Americano del Sur 7th grade class was pushed to boundaries of their abilities and talents in a new and exciting way with IVECA.

High School Kids Make the Best Use of Globalization

The 21st century is often described as the era of globalization – but what does that mean exactly? Do we really live in a global village? Well, 10th graders from Escuintla city in Guatemala had a one-hour virtual class with their IVECA partners from Daejeon city in Korea in order to discuss these questions.

Obviously, it took them more than one hour to properly understand how globalization is influencing today’s societies. During the last three months, both schools carried out research and developed critical thinking on this complex topic. The students first defined globalization before digging down a little deeper to carefully investigate the political, economic and environmental impacts of this phenomenon.

On June 20th, during their live class, the teenagers presented their findings as well as their solutions to mitigate the detrimental effects of globalization. For example, students from Korea shared their ideas to reduce the loss of competitiveness experienced by some of their national industries. Likewise, Guatemalan students explained how the globalization of Spanish jeopardizes the existence of native languages in Central America. They emphasized the role which schools should play in keeping Mayan languages alive. Among other suggestions, they proposed to increase the number of teaching hours allocated to native languages.

Of course, the students did not only highlight the negative aspects of globalization but also pointed out the numerous benefits of this trend, including their IVECA experience itself as a positive outcome of globalization. After all, it wasn’t only students involved in this cross-cultural partnership, but two whole “villages”. From the English and Social Studies teachers who guided the students to parents who livestreamed their performance, in the end, it is two school communities who went beyond cultural and geographical boundaries to make the most of this worldwide network called the “global village”!

Youth: Leaders of Today, Changing the World of Tomorrow!

Guest reporter: Subhajit Saha

On 15 June, Hanil High School students in Korea and Global Youth Leaders including the UN DPI Youth Representatives and NY-based NGO youth leaders convened at the annual IVECA – Global Youth Virtual Roundtable to discuss the Roles of Youth in Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Throughout the session, the participants discussed a variety of overarching questions regarding the roundtable theme, from “What are the SDGs?,” to “What would you do to contribute to achieving the SDGs?”

The second segment was commenced with words of inspiration from former United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, “Be proud to be young. You are not the leaders of tomorrow, you are the leaders of today.” The statement can be attested to the work of Hanil IVECA Club students and Global Youth Leaders, who are contributing to Agenda 2030.

Hanil High School students are contributing to civil society efforts through grassroots initiatives at their school and community. Taewoo Kim of Hanil IVECA Club is currently working on SDG 4: Quality Education by designing programs that aim to send African children to school, who may otherwise not be able to do so due to poverty. Hyunjun Shim is supporting SDG 15: Life Below Water by raising awareness of marine life issues through campaigns at his school. Junghun Park, a firm gender equality activist, is working on achieving SDG 5: Gender Equality by promoting the sharing of domestic chores that are typically performed by women. Jiwon Baek supports SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation by informing his peers about the lack of access to clean water faces by millions in the developing water.

Global Youth Leaders are performing similar work alongside their Hanil High School counterparts in Korea, in an effort to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030. Jadayah Spencer, Chair of UN DPI Youth Representatives’ Steering Committee is working with several NGOs to end negative stereotypes about Africa and the Black community by training Black and Latino youth to become the next generation of visionary leaders. She is also involved in teaching youth how to advocate, in addition to designing solutions for problems faced by their community. Secretary of the Steering Committee, Subhajit Saha, brings to light the issues faced by young Bangladeshi orphans through social media campaigns and outreach initiatives at the United Nations and in the private sector. Furthermore, he promotes the alignment of Education for Global Citizenship and the Together Campaign to promote respect, safety and dignity for all. His colleague of the UN DPI Youth Representatives, Aishwarya Narasimhadevara is dedicated to women’s empowerment in medicine. In addition to leading a movement pertaining to improving access to water in Zimbabwe, she is currently working with Javita Nauth, whose organization constructs a school with eco-friendly and earthquake resistant material in villages of Nepal. Javita also conducted the first young women and mental health thematic session of the Youth Forum at the 61st UN CSW session. James Corbett, through his own initiative, Project Refit, is developing a web-based communication platform that assists military members to tell their stories through YouTube videos, podcasts, blog posts, and social media.

Hanil High School Students and Global Youth Leaders completed the roundtable session with Q&A. During this time, participants discussed the possible danger of technology in hindering sustainability, in addition to the role of youth in the betterment of society at a time of tension amongst world leaders. All participants left the session with a sense of inspiration and hope, in a commitment to improving the world we live in.

A Hanil student commented, “IVECA changed my dream. I wanted to be a doctor only to make a big money, but now I want to be a doctor who helps African refugees and dedicated to treating infectious diseases through the UN or WHO.”

James, one of the youth panelists shared his reflection, “[the Global Youth Virtual Roundtable] truly had impacted me in a positive way… it was evident the experience had a positive impact on them [Korean high school students], as well. I truly believe this effort should be reached into high schools around the world.”

Jadayah, moderator of the roundtable said, “Learning from the IVECA students in Korea, gave me insight. The students posed important questions, and our discussion about overcoming obstacles towards progress was candid and eye-opening. It gave me hope, and confirmed for me that youth around the world carry the spirit of collaboration, and the hope for achieving the goals that benefit us all. It was inspiring, and I look forward to bringing in more youth from New York City to engage in these conversations.”


Host & Sponsor: IVECA International Virtual Schooling
Co-sponsor: Legion of Good Will – USA

Amazing Teamwork from Guatemalan and Korean Schools Gives Hope for a Brighter Future

Colegio Americano del Sur from Guatemala and Noeun High School from Korea met virtually on June 14th in order to address current issues and suggest solutions to ensure a better future for all. The students examined together how unequal income distribution, high tuition costs and crime networks among others are detrimental to the political, educational and economic systems of their countries. The teenagers enthusiastically exchanged their views through a critical analysis and intercultural lens on these serious topics.

It is worth pointing out the commitment of the lead teachers of these two schools (Mr. Jim Dolan and Ms. Hejin Kim) and the wonderful support provided by the administrators and technology teachers of each school. The genuine desire to provide quality global education for their students demonstrated the exemplary teamwork of both schools throughout this three-month partnership. Reflecting the cooperation, respect and mindfulness between two schools, students’ live exchange celebrated an outstanding success. IVECA would like to extend a warm round of applause to the cast of this panel and its stagehands as well!

Teenagers’ Virtual Panel for Equality and Harmony

Yodeling, whistling, sending smoke signals or carrier pigeons, etc. This is not a list of weird hobbies but rather ways that were once used by humans to communicate over long-distances. Talking about long-distances, more than 7000 miles (11000 kilometers) separate Hanil High School in Korea from Bellows Free Academy in USA. To close this geographical gap, the students from these two schools decided to use more reliable and modern forms of communication.

Over the last three months, these two schools connected with one another by posting messages online through the IVECA platform. This week, these Korean and U.S. teenagers had an even more immediate interaction. After researching discrimination issues and international conflicts, they met virtually to have live exchanges of their perspectives to build a better future.

For about one hour, they held panel discussions in order to propose an action plan for equality and harmony. While the Korean panelists exposed their ideas about conflicts affecting international relations of East Asia, the young U.S. speakers focused on the African continent. To tackle various issues ranging from the controversy over Japanese Yasukuni Shrine to the illicit trade of natural resources and exotic pets in Africa, the students developed solutions based on the similar strategies. All the participants in this debate agreed that communication, diplomacy and cultural interaction will pave the way to stronger and healthier relationships between countries. One of the U.S. students reflected on her experience:

“… Doing IVECA and talking to you and your school showed me how working together with other countries can solve inequalities… In the future I hope that many of the problems and inequalities we face today are no longer an issue…  I hope that by standing up for my beliefs like the people in the Gwangju Uprising I can help stop inequalities and make a difference…” 

Of course, reducing the communication gap between different cultures is a road filled with challenges. The students themselves sometimes had a difficult time communicating with their partners due to the language barrier. But thanks to their open mindset and hard work, they made the most of this intercultural partnership. The farewell letters they exchanged at the end of their live classes demonstrate that they successfully managed to transcend cultural boundaries:

“ …We really enjoyed the activities with you. At first, it wasn’t easy to communicate in English. We searched for dictionary dozens of times to use the most appropriate expression… The activity about ‘Conflicts in history’ gave us a chance to learn about many different conflicts around the world. “

Student from Hanil High School, Korea.

“IVECA was an amazing experience for all of us here in the United States. We have enjoyed getting to know more about you and your country, and we hope you enjoyed meeting us as well. Learning about each other has helped us develop friendship skills, and learning about your country has made us closer… “

Student from Bellows Free Academy, Vermont.

“ …I encourage you to think of today’s class as not the end but a new beginning and hope for each other’s best although we are far apart.. “

Shin Insoo, Vice Principal of Hanil High School, Korea.

Budding Global Experts from Korea and India Discuss Geopolitics

Hanil High School and Mahaveer Public School respectively from Korea and India, met virtually on Wednesday, May 24 in order to discuss issues and conflicts which have persisted over the course of history and still influence international relations. During their live presentations, the students assessed together the historical, economic and geopolitical reasons behind international conflicts such as the territorial disputes over Kashmir or the sovereignty of the Dokdo island.

As real history experts, the students were very detail-oriented when conducting research and sharing with their IVECA partners their possible solutions to mitigate the negative impact of these conflicts on global relationships.

Students found this two-month partnership was a very rewarding learning experience for both schools, as exemplified by the farewell letters they exchanged:

“….we learned a lot about your culture, customs, and especially about you. Thank you for having us as your partner, and we sincerely hope that we could meet again as proud global leaders. Thank you.”

“Only a few months have passed since we have communicated by IVECA, and this virtual classroom [live video class] became the last activity between classes…. the time spent together was useful and valuable.”

           Letters from Hanil High School  students to their friends in India.

Indian and U.S. Kids Embrace Joy of Cultural Diversity

150-151 fashion show picture US-IN

During their three-month partnership, students from Bellows Free Academy (Vermont, USA) and their IVECA friends from St. Mark’s Sr. Secondary Public School (New Delhi, India) showcased intercultural dialogue, respect for diversity, and openness to learn from others – all critical in a world that is becoming ever more connected.

Using IVECA’s platform, these children spent their semester discussing the similarities and differences between the cultural wardrobes of the United States and India. Of course, this partnership, a first for the New Delhi school, went far beyond an exchange of information about clothing.

The children also learned about the effects of geographical features on the ways people live, work and celebrate. For example, the Indian students presented Diwali, a festival celebrating happiness and lights, while the US students shared their tradition of Halloween, a popular celebration involving lights. Additionally, the students explored the role indigenous plants play in their economies. St. Mark’s students illustrated how spices contribute to India’s international trade.  Likewise, students from BFA  explained how Northeastern states benefit from the production and sale of Maple syrup.

On January 31, this collaboration concluded with a fashion show that highlighted traditional costumes worn during festivals, athletic uniforms, and everyday clothing.  This one-hour virtual exchange celebrated their friendship, joy of learning about new cultures, and the importance of intercultural understanding.

The farewell letters the children exchanged demonstrate the power of their experience:

“…. it was the first time I had been a part of such program and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned that the differences in our cultures make this world an exciting place to be, but our similarities make us understand each other in a better way. This understanding is required to make this world a better place to live in.

–  A student from St. Mark School in New Delhi.


“… I just have to say that it has been a great time doing IVECA for two years and I really hope that I get to do this again. I have really been happy to meet different people from other cultures.”  

“I hope that you had just as much fun as I did!  I know that most schools do not get the opportunity to communicate with people from separate countries and one thing that I learned from this experience was that we have a lot of similarities.”

– Students from BFA School in Vermont.

Brazilian and American Students cut across Language Boundaries

When one wants to learn a foreign language, one is often advised to go abroad to be in contact with native speakers and their culture. However, throughout this semester, students from Oswaldo Aranha Middle School and their IVECA’s partners from Sunderland Elementary School experienced this journey to multilingualism without actually leaving their classrooms in Esteio (Brazil) and Massachusetts (the US).

These students took on a bilingual trip together where they worked on engineering, geography and language projects. During their travel, they sometimes got some fuel via assisted auto-translation. This has facilitated them to achieve progress on the path of intercultural communication and to take part in a very positive experience, as reminded by Oswaldo Aranha English teacher (Miguel Antônio Machado). He believes this type of exchange is essential for his pupils as it gives them the opportunity to connect directly with students with a different mother tongue and a different cultural background as well.

View full article here: Alunos interagem por videoconferência com estudantes dos Estados Unidos

Intercultural Understanding on Technological Impact in Colombia and the U.S.

What do maple syrup, drones, solar panels and ice cream have in common? Well, fourth graders from Abraham Lincoln International School in Colombia and their IVECA partners from Georgia Elementary & Middle School in the US helped us answer this question. Indeed, they addressed these topics during their mid-December Live Classes which focused on how the respective industries of their regions use modern technologies.

Due to the fact that we live in a technology-driven world, American and Colombian students chose to explore together how technology influences their daily life. While Vermont students shared with their partner friends how modern science facilitates the manufacturing of some typical products of their area (maple syrup and ice cream), Colombian students worked, amongst others, on renewable technologies, drones and coffee industry.

By discussing throughout this semester how new technologies are creating massive changes in their regions, these students clearly increased their knowledge about industrial science. Students also had opportunities to build intercultural understanding of the technological impact on people’s life.  Abraham Lincoln School’s principal commented about their experience at the end of this three-month partnership:

“Educating children with a humanistic approach has been set as a priority and in that direction we cherish the possibility to establish interaction with people from different cultures. Today we praise greatly the chance you have provided us. It’s been an awesome experience working with you and IVECA organization these sessions that have contributed to expanding our intercultural understanding. Tons of thanks and may this be the first of many similar experiences.” –  Ms. Rocio Mongui


Korean and Brazilian Students Debate Over Renewable Energy

Noeun High School and Instituto de Educação respectively from Korea and Brazil, met virtually on Tuesday 22th November in order to discuss sustainable development and renewable energy. Mr. Jonghyuk Keun (Korea) and Ms. Michele Wilbert (Brazil), in collaboration with a Brazilian geography teacher displayed their commitment to make the class successful.

For one hour and a half, the Korean and Brazilian students enjoyed participating in debates about renewable energy, its different advantages and disadvantages. The students exchanged points of view, presented arguments and raised questions concerning diverse types of renewable energy such as hydraulic and nuclear energy. Other than scientific discussions, students had the opportunity of giving artistic performances that reveal some cultural aspects in their countries. As clearly seen on their faces, students were amazed by each other’s shows which opened their eyes to different lifestyles.

All for intercultural competence, this Live Class made students aware of many aspects of renewable energy that concern their countries. Undoubtedly, these kinds of learning experiences  will contribute to raising a generation that is conscious of environmental issues affecting our planet, and that is capable of discussing, analyzing and finding solutions for these challenging issues.

The Winner Is…


On November 15th, students from Hoover High School (US) and Daejeon Jeonmin High School (South Korea) engaged in a memorable World Speech Contest as part of their long-awaited live class. This virtual session was the closing ceremony of a semester-long exchange where these high school students shared their thoughts on current issues related to their countries and identified possible solutions.

148-2During this one-hour contest, six teams presented speeches based on literature and articles examining topics ranging from witchcraft and comfort women to political scandals. The presentations were followed by question and answer sessions and culminated with the selection of the winning speech for each country. But, of course, such a ceremony would not have been complete without artistic performances! While on the US side, Taylor Swift and ukulele were honored, South Korean students decided, for their part, to share their passion for danso (a traditional musical instrument) as well as for K-Pop (Korean popular music).

Throughout this fall semester, all these future global leaders exemplified the essence of the IVECA program; a respectful exchange of knowledge and culture. This is why IVECA would like to give a big round of applause to all the participants of the World Speaker Award Competition!

Thank you for your contagious enthusiasm and your remarkable partnership!

And the winner is…global citizenship!

First Steps: Growing Together As Global Citizens


The IVECA Virtual Classroom is an online intercultural exchange platform where students around the world study topics ranging from science and technology, to social studies, languages, and the arts through an integrated curriculum with common learning objectives. One of the most exciting parts of the program is the “Live Class” where students meet “face to face” and communicate directly with their partners through IVECA’s online video platform. The interaction increases students motivation, help them think globally and develop their intercultural communicative competence.

On October 20th, Fletcher Elementary School (USA) and Ssangryu Elementary School (KOREA) held their first Live Class of the semester.  The session allowed the students to introduce themselves and begin getting to know one another as they prepare for their upcoming semester project. The students could not contain their excitement when seeing one another for the first time on screen. Ms. Underwood and Mr. Hong (lead teachers from each school) facilitated the Live Class discussion to enable the students to communicate effectively.

During the question and answer session, the students talked about a wide range of subjects with their partners, including culture, geographical characteristics, language, school schedules, lifestyles, and traditional food among others. Throughout the session, students shared what they have learned about differences and similarities between their respective cultures, socialized and celebrated their new global friendships.

We look forward to seeing these students continue to learn and grow together as the semester progresses.