Working with edu.Africa has been transformational! In an effort to globalize the curriculum in two of my writing classes, I contracted with edu.Africa to customize a Virtual Exchange on the topic, “Understanding the Effects of Capitalist Consumer Patterns.” My students heard from professionals and interacted with peers, creating final products that were written in collaboration with students from Africa. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone I worked with as part of this program was professional, friendly, and accommodating. The students on both sides fully participated, demonstrating intercultural communication skills and an understanding of social justice. Based on student feedback this program was exceptionally well organized and fully engaging. Some of the take-aways were that students from my class were surprised to learn that students from Africa had the same interests, insecurities, goals, and passions. The program gave students a chance to find commonality among their peers from another country and left them feeling more connected with others around the globe and confident about interacting with culturally diverse populations.
I have since worked with the group to offer another program to the next level English Composition class: “Reclaiming Spaces: Land Dispossession & Black Identity in South Africa.” This, too, was a real hit with the students. By examining the inequity between races related to space access in South Africa, my students were able to make connections to concerns related to race relations in the U.S. They were able to examine this issue through the lens of social justice. A highlight for my students was interacting with Njabulo Hlope, a street artist. It unfolded as the program brochure had described it: “(Hlope) believes in the power of public art to kickstart critical conversations about identity, race, and belonging.” These conversations continued throughout the semester and inspired several research writing projects that demonstrated critical and global thinking. This program has definitely brought a passion into my classroom that has students finding purpose in their writing about real world issues.