Level Up Village is expanding its global network with the addition of yet another international school partner: Schutz American School in Alexandria, Egypt. This school year, both seventh and eighth grade students at the school participated in Level Up Village’s Global Conversations: Malala Yousafzai course. The eighth graders collaborated with partner students at Springboard School in Pakistan while seventh graders were paired with partner students at Seacoast Charter School in Dover, New Hampshire.
“The students were interested in learning about the cultural differences between Egypt and Pakistan and Egypt and the United States,” said Dan Spatzierath, classroom teacher at Schutz American School. “This allowed a wide variety of perspectives to be presented in the discussions and allowed both partners the ability to share information and insights into their learning.”
“The more students are equipped with the tools to navigate cultural norms and to understand and to appreciate cultural differences, the more likely they will be able to interact successfully as global team members and partners in society.” – Jennifer Kelly, Director of Curriculum for Schutz American School
In the course, students read I am Malala and discussed key issues including leadership, access to education and community service both within their classroom and with their Pakistani and American partners through the exchange of video messages.
“The primary issue of concern at the beginning of the unit was the ability to understand accents. The Egyptian students initially felt self-conscious about their accents, but quickly overcame the embarrassment when working with students on a similar goal,” said Dan.
“Discussions were started through Socratic seminar and through forum posts online in the Google Classroom learning environment,” added Dan. “Students used personal time to record the videos for the partners and class time was used to discuss common misconceptions and miscommunications about their partner’s country. Additionally, the supplemental materials were used to help students identify interests in leadership styles, community service ideas, and personal growth goals.”
“It was interesting to collaborate with students from another country and to hear their perspective about the same book,” said Menna M., a student who participated in the course.
In addition to discussing the book, students shared information about their school routines, culture and country in their video messages.
“We learned that we had some different interests and I was surprised that they didn’t know some of the places that we go in Egypt. But we also had some things in common, like sports,” said Malak M. and Nour H.
“It was really fun to learn about other people’s points of view,” said Malak Z. “For example, in America, they were really friendly, but they were surprised that we knew stuff about Disneyland and Justin Bieber. I don’t know why they were so surprised that we knew about that stuff!”
The Schutz American School in Alexandria, Egypt serves about 400 hundred students in PreK through 12th grade. About 90% of its students speak a language other than English at home and about 80% of the school’s students are Egyptian.
“While our students continue to study their native Arabic language throughout their Schutz career, all of their classes (except for Arabic and French) are taught in English,” explained Jennifer Kelly, Director of Curriculum for The Schutz American School.
In addition to Level Up Village’s globally collaborative courses, the school offers a variety of innovative programming.
“Our Schutz High School was the first school in Africa to host Harvard University’s Introduction to Computer Science (CS50) course. Our Middle School offers ‘Discovery Days’ when the students are reorganized into multi-grade groups and rotate through stations of inquiry,” said Jennifer.
Topics for Discovery Days have included water access issues, architecture, live action role play and forensics. In keeping with its emphasis on innovation, The Schutz American School sought to incorporate Level Up Village programming into its curriculum to further develop students’ global citizenship.
“We are a private American school located in the Middle East, so our families choose to attend our school because they want their children to become fluent in English in order to run their international family business and because many of them want their children to attend universities outside their home country. Therefore, a large part of the school’s mission is to prepare the students to be successful in both of these endeavors,” said Jennifer.
She also emphasized that these kinds of experiences help students develop greater awareness of cultures other than their own.
“The more students are equipped with the tools to navigate cultural norms and to understand and to appreciate cultural differences, the more likely they will be able to interact successfully as global team members and partners in society,” said Jennifer. “Because our Schutz student population lacks a natural diversity, it is even more important for us as their educators to seek opportunities for our students to be exposed to other points of view, ideas and cultures that they do not have access to in their daily lives.”