We share a strong bond with our sister school Brescia House in Johannesburg, South Africa thanks to our global exchange program over the past decade and our shared Ursuline mission.
Even though we could not travel this year to visit each other in person, we developed a synchronous virtual class exchange. Our Director of Global Education, Maria Barton, and 11th grade English AP Teacher Adrianna Robertson collaborated with Brescia House School faculty Graham West, History Chair and Laura Van Houten, History Teacher. The project was titled "Reaching for Global Equality & Equity."
Substituting technology for passports, students met via Zoom and used Microsoft Teams as they researched 10 aspects of inequity in both New Rochelle/Westchester/NYC, New York and Randburg/Sandton/Alexandra, South Africa.
The 10 topics were housing, service delivery, education, health care, economics, law, transport, access to goods, gender, and environment/climate challenges. The student teams also researched the origins and consequences of these inequities and then shared findings and possible solutions via video presentations.
It was evident that the students enjoyed the virtual exchange and learned a great deal from this global experience. In their own words:
"It was interesting to interact with girls our age from a completely different location, while getting to learn the inequalities in other areas as well."
"I was very grateful that my group mates were very sweet and understanding. I think we had great conversations and were able to connect through topics beyond academics, which was also very valuable."
"I never knew much about South Africa before, but now I feel I understand the place, people, and life there in a number of aspects. I also made several new friends! "
"I learned about the life of a student in South Africa, and I was able to gain new perspectives on the world and on inequity and inequality."
"This exchange was valuable as it was so interesting to get to know a group of girls from a whole different country and continent. It was so interesting that we had so much in common even though we had never met each other before."
Both Ursuline and Brescia House faculty have already started planning the continuation of this virtual exchange for next year. "It was important to both schools to find ways to continue this strong global connection through curriculum and cultural learning, '' said Maria Barton.
Our mutual objective is to continue this virtual partnership to explore important global issues and build upon our strong connection until we can visit each other in person again. We are grateful for the wonderful relationships that have formed amongst the students and our faculty, despite the global challenge we faced this year."
Pictured above, Brescia House students on Zoom.