My favorite part of my work so far with the Arajuno Road Project (ARP) in Puyo, Ecuador has been my students’ participation in a K-12 Global Art Exchange organized by a U.S.-based entity, OneWorld Classrooms.
Earlier this year, I charged my students in the 5th, 6th and 7th grades with the task of drawing pictures that would represent their lives to other students around the world. Between the two schools where I teach, this was a total of 25 students. First, we brainstormed ideas of what they might draw and each student chose a subject for his or her drawing. The jungle, Paseo Turistico, fruit and animals were especially popular. Then, they set to work on their art. The art that these schools created was done completely with pencil and marker. My students were so excited to use these resources, their faces lit up and they devoured my bag of colored pencils and markers. I was so thrilled and impressed with their enthusiasm and community pride.
Last week, I received the art that OneWorld Classrooms sent to us. There are photography pieces, watercolor paintings and pencil drawings from nearly every continent. I was so moved by the thoughtful reflections of identity and community that we received. Much of the work was done by students in the U.S., but we also have art from China, Thailand, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Panama, Poland and other countries. I was so excited to bring it in to my students so that they could see what life is like for children their age in other countries.
Even better, OneWorld Classrooms has helped us arrange three Skype exchanges with other schools. Last week, we Skyped with a school in North Carolina that has received some of our art. In preparation for this conversation, we spent some time talking about what we’d like to share with another school, and what kinds of questions we’re curious to ask them. We decided that we would show some unique South American fruits and that two students would sing in Quechua, an indigenous language spoken in parts of the Pastaza province. The North Carolina students sang the popular song “Let it Go” from the Disney movie Frozen and showed us their pet hedgehog. Since much of my Master’s work was focused on intercultural education, I’m so pleased to incorporate more of this into my English classes.