When you think about global education, chances are the first thing you think about is learning about different countries and cultures. Why simply read about various world cultures when you can explore and compare them with global PenPals! A global PenPal exchange brings geography to life, adds context to cultural studies, and motivates students to examine their own communities.
This week, we’re celebrating PenPals of the Week Lukas from Sweden, Sebastian and Stacy from Texas, Callie from Georgia, Hayden and Vanessa from South Carolina, Amber from South Africa, Celestino, Martina, and Santiago from Argentina who recently completed World Explorer.
In this project, students explore daily life, food, history, art & literature, and pop culture around the world as they compare their communities with global PenPals.
Gracen shared about her city.
“In Michigan we have a lot of farms, dairy and meat. The most common crop in Michigan is corn, we grow a lot of corn! In my city we have a restaurant called the Utter Side, it serves ice cream, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and other hearty foods. The food there is very good. Overall in America we eat hearty and home style foods.”
-Gracen from Michigan, USA
Hayden reflected on the role of technology in her life.
“Technology impacts popular culture where my PenPals live because technology can access many international thing around the world. We can look up what it look like in Argentina and we will find many pictures and international influences impact because planes an take us all over the world”
-Hayden from South Carolina, USA
Amber and Santiago described the kind of food that her community is known for.
“Hello my name is Amber. I am from the SA. In the Eastern Cape. In the Eastern Cape we have a lot of foods like braais, braais is something that you cook meat and enjoy with are family the men normally braai the meat and the woman normally make the salads and desserts like potato salad and ice - cream with chocolate sauce. We are also have bitong which is mainly dry meat and you can spice it to. We also have dry wors which is kind of the same as biltong. We also have macaroni with cheese but I sometimes have it with mince which is really nice. I hope you liked this bye.”
-Amber from South Africa
“In Argentina we have a lot of typical foods such as asado empanadas torta fritas and mate. My penpals friends have quite different foods opposite to mine for example sea food, fast food or junk food. The similarity that each of us have is that we are accustomed to eat grilled food. Argentinian food is influenced by other countries.”
-Santiago from Argentina
Lukas, Celestino, and Santiago wrote about the history of their hometowns and countries.
“In Karlskorna we have lots of statues of old kings. The reason of that is because our city were a very important military port into the baltic sea. Our city is a military based town that have evolved into a quit big city.”
-Lukas from Sweden
“One of the most important events that marked the history of Argentina was the May Revolution, where they overthrew the Spanish government in Buenos Aires and created a Junta de Gobierno integrated by criollos from the Río de la Plata. And another historical fact was that of independence declared the formal rupture of the bonds of political dependence of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata with the Spanish monarchy.”
-Celestino from Argentina
“Argentina has been through a lot of events in history such as the military dictatorship or the economical and social crisis of 2001 which we can still see the effects today. The dictatorship is the most important historical event because many people were systematically kidnaped and murdered. Many people nowadays do strikes to claim for justice.”
-Santiago from Argentina
Martina spoke specifically about the influence art has on her country.
“Art influence Argentina in every way. It is seen in the architecture of the city and in the urban dances. Many of the art of argentina represent the economical and political situation of the country many people uses art to express their opinion and how they feel. Graffiti is a very famous way to do art because it is everywhere and as it is very colorful it catches the attention of many people.Also with urban dances such as murgas and jiggling that are seen in the streets or city center, the most of the community usually records or film the performance and then they upload the videos. That is a way to show the art that we create.”
-Martina from Argentina
While Sebastian, Stacy, Callie, Vanessa, Celestino, and Olivia discussed other aspects of pop culture, from music to sports to television.
“Our popular culture in Houston is the rockets, Astros, Texans our popular music artist are Drake, Cardi b, migos etc. popular Tv shows and movies Dr. Phil, Dr.oz, stranger things, avengers infinity war. Popular Culture politician Donald trump, our religions leader is pope Francesco to the Catholic people. Our popular culture in Houston Texas is similar to the popular culture from Canada because Drake, Justin Bieber and different kind of important people are very famous too.”
-Sebastian from Texas, USA
“Here in Houston music is very popular mostly rap like Drake, Migos, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj but other people also listen to pop music like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber. In other countries like Colombia they listen to Spanish music they listen to Daddy Yankee, J. Balvin, Maluma, and salsa music so Houston and Columbia they have different pop culture but one thing they do have in common is that they like to listen to music and dance to it. In Houston people like to dance to rap music in Colombia people like to dance to salsa or bachata.”
-Stacy from Texas, USA
“I'd say my most favorite part of American pop culture are the movies, cartoons, and TV shows. I grew up watching the channels Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney, and the TV shows they aired are a big part of my childhood. Some of my favorites were Teen Titans, Drake & Josh, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. These shows are still beloved by many people my age and a few years older, and give us a feeling of nostalgia for when we were kids. Another part of American pop culture I am invested in is a love for Eastern animation. Some of the latest animes I've grown fond of are Little Witch Academia, Fairy Tail, and Your Lie in April. They inspire me, make me laugh, and just give me a sense of satisfaction, especially when I can share them with others around me. I love their sometimes simplistic or breathtakingly beautiful styles, and the soundtracks for some of the shows I like are simply incredible... though I suppose this getting more into Japanese pop culture at this point? Anyways, I'm interested to hear if there are any movies, cartoons, or TV shows that you like. Do any of them make you feel nostalgic? Do you still like them even after you have grown up? I look forward to your answers.”
-Callie from Georgia, USA
“Through music, we can express ourselves our religions and how we feel about different things. In America, we can express ourselves through what we listen to and what we want to sing about. You can listen to different religious music, pop, rap, country or whatever you please. Music can capture traditions and settings of places that can show people what different cultures are about.”
-Vanessa from South Carolina, USA
“The most notable types of music that represent the Argentine culture are folklore, tango, and cumbia villera, these three types of music are like those identified and heard by the Argentines and represent the majority.”
-Celestino from Argentina
“Some culture that we share is music, people all over the world listen to music. I am a HUGE Beatles fan I lust love their music and I grew up listening to them. Also I am a HUGE grateful dead fan, bob Marley, Rita Marley, The Doors and more and the great thing is that most of those musicians are from all over the world! Bob Marley and Rita Marley are from Jamaica, The Beatles are from London, The doors, Pink Floyd, and grateful dead are from California. Some of the activities I like to do in my free time is surf, skate, swim, cook, listen to music and just relax.”
-Olivia from North Carolina, USA
As students explore the culture and history of countries around the world in World Explorer, they are able to compare their communities with global PenPals. Callie from Georgia told us that this was her favorite part of her learning experience.
"My favorite part of this PenPals exchange was just getting to talk with people who live lives so different from my own. We have some similarities too, and those were just as intriguing as our differences."
-Callie from Georgia, USA
It’s more fun to learn with the world than about the world, and a great place to start is by comparing communities with global PenPals. Invite your students to explore with PenPals and sign up for World Explorer.