Level Up Village Connects Students Across Oceans, Continents, Languages, and Hearts at St. Pius X School

By Nina Moser, St. Pius X School

Level Up Village is a way of connecting across oceans, across continents, across languages and, most importantly, across hearts. Once learning about this program, it became clear that we, as a school, wanted to become a part of it! Inquiry, engineering design, collaboration, communication, and empathy are all core components of our school and this program brought them to the forefront and tested our students in new and interesting ways. Not only did we learn many new things geographically and culturally from our global partners, but now that we were actively engaging with actual people from these places, perspectives were changing!

My name is Nina Moser and I am the Enrichment Teacher at St Pius X Catholic School in Urbandale, IA. Our school believes that enrichment is for all students and I help to make that happen. I get the opportunity to work with students in various ways from kindergarten through eighth grade. Our school wants to raise up global citizens that truly and deeply care about our world and the people that live in it.

The base curriculums for these courses are enlightening in many ways and help students develop compassion for world problems that they do not necessarily individually face here– especially in our homes in small town Iowa. The discussions students have showcase just how big their hearts are as we ponder and question how we can make a difference. Add to that the real connections with our new friends in places like the Ukraine and Zimbabwe and it suddenly becomes ‘our’ problems instead of just ‘their’ problems. Now, we can get to work.

I clearly remember the shouts of joy that could be heard as students were able to understand and listen to their partners’ videos for the first time. As well as groans of disappointment whenever there were any communication difficulties or if any videos were not available. This led to many great discussions on patience and empathy because so many things are out of our control. Turmoil in Zimbabwe, access to reliable internet, and general safety for teachers and students allowed opportunities for us to begin to understand some of the difficulties other children face when trying to obtain an education. Perspective is a beautiful thing.

Fifth graders taking the course, Global Scientists, especially loved the hands-on portion of the course– building and tinkering with their water-filter prototypes. After learning what their global partners’ biggest water issues were, they collaborated to design, build, and test their configurations. They were thrilled to share the concepts they crafted with their partners in the Ukraine and Zimbabwe. Second grader, Global Sound Artists, loved building new and different instruments. They had a blast making songs and performing them for their global partners in Zimbabwe.

It can be difficult for students to see beyond their everyday lives but Level Up Village provides a much-needed window for our students. Over and over again, students were surprised by just how similar they found their partners and how similar all kids are all over the world. The effect this program has had on our students has been profound. I have been delighted to see our students grow and mature through the LUV courses and the excitement for our live chats with our global partners is palpable.

I cannot wait for our school to participate again next year!