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Learning Across Borders

What do English grad students studying creative writing in Birmingham and Mexican college students studying Information Technology in Tabasco have in common? Probably more than you might think, given the fact that they–and we–live in an increasingly connected world. But soon there will be one more point of confluence: Both groups will collaborate across borders with students at DePaul, taught by faculty involved in a new initiative called Global Learning Experience, or GLE for short.

GLE is a new faculty development program at DePaul which combines customized training in online collaboration with small stipends that can help DePaul faculty develop and nurture relationships with international partners. Four DePaul faculty members, working with partners in Italy, England,  Kenya, and Mexico,  have received funding in the first cycle of GLE. Image of globe with greetings in different languages

The Italian connection

Students taking Daniel Makagon‘s Urban Communications course will team up with students from the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Coure in Milan to study the social, cultural, and economic features of the Chinatowns in Milan and Chicago. Using online technology that allows for both synchronous communications, like Skype, and asynchronous work, like Google Docs or EverNote, the teams will document their observations, including photographs taken using their smartphones, and create final presentations featuring their analyses.

Because each team of students will incorporate both Italians and Americans, there will be plenty of opportunities for intercultural exchange. A series of prompts will not only help students explore the similarities and differences between the two Chinatowns, but also the experiences of everyday life in Italy and the United States. For example, students will be able to discuss their relationships to family and extended family as well as how they interact with their classmates and professors.

“Two countries separated by a common language”

It’s unclear if George Bernard Shaw actually said or wrote that “England and America are two countries separated by a common language,” but the problem of attribution doesn’t make the sentiment any less true. Miles Harvey‘s English graduate students will confront these differences  head-on as they edit–and are edited by–their peers at Birmingham University.

Students from both universities will gain editing experience in different dialects of English, learning not only about the syntactical and grammatical differences of the language but also the cultural and social perspectives they undergird. Both American and British students will submit individual works for publication in a class anthology and participate in live video exchanges with an independent publisher based in England. Through these interactions, Harvey anticipates the course will “give DePaul students a broader perspective on the world and an increased sensitivity in dealing with their English counterparts.”

Understanding the local dimensions of a global pandemic

DePaul undergrads taking Leah Neubauer‘s The Diverse Faces of AIDS courses will encounter individuals living with HIV/AIDS  in Chicago, as previous students have done in her classes over the years. But this fall, first-year students at DePaul will communicate one-on-one with young adults who work as peer health educators in Kenya.

Both DePaul students and the peer educators in Kenya will share their own experiences with the HIV/AIDS pandemic through a private Facebook page and chats. Topics of discussion will include different method of prevention, treatment, and availability of local resources. Throughout the course, students will maintain a reflective journal based on their conversations across borders as well as their encounters with people and places  in Chicago. By the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to develop a personal plan of action on how they can respond to this ongoing public health crisis.

Cross-border collaboration

College of Education Associate Professor Chris Worthman‘s students–who are studying to be teachers themselves –will be collaborating with Mexican undergrads to create research-based, technologically appropriate lessons on reading, writing, and speaking English. The target audience for these lessons are Mexican immigrants living in the United States.

DePaul students in Pilsen

DePaul students explore Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood

DePaul students will work with a group of students studying Information Technology at the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco in Villahermosa, Mexico. While the Mexican students will lend their expertise in digital collaboration and Mexican culture, DePaul students will get practice in curriculum and instructional design by developing culturally-relevant lessons in language arts. Set up this way, each group of students will have the opportunity to lend their expertise as well as gain new knowledge and skills.

Curious about how you can develop your own Global Learning Experience for your class? Visit the Teaching Commons for more information.

As of this posting, there are upcoming workshops related to internationalization at DePaul: “Interacting Effectively with International Students”:

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