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.