While exchanging weekly emails with students in Honduras helped Poudre School District Global Academy students learn about another culture, eleventh-grader Kaitie Becker was also impressed with her pen pal’s determination to succeed.
“Even though my ePAL lives in such a dangerous place, it impacted me that she still had high goals for herself and is dedicated to achieving those goals,” said Becker.
This past spring, 26 Global Academy students exchanged weekly emails with students in Honduras through an online ePALS program. The goal of the program was to conduct a cultural investigation by comparing their own culture with the Honduras students’ culture. All emails received and sent were screened by teachers.
“We’re doing this to expand our world view. The Honduras students’ purpose is to practice their English writing skill to prepare for college,” said Hannah McGrath, Global Academy science teacher. McGrath and Kate Stevens, Global Academy language arts teacher, worked together to develop the program for students.
The five-week email exchange allowed students to explore a different topic each week, learning about different cultural aspects like the Honduras government, foods and ecosystems. Students also worked on technical skills, creating digital stories and videos about their life in Fort Collins to share with their email pen pals.
Through their correspondence, the ePALS discovered common interests and differences. “They’ve discovered fun things like they have the same taste in music. Also, Hunger Games is the number one thing they brought up. They discovered that they think about the same things,” said McGrath.
“On the flip side, their culture is a lot less safe than our environment here,” she added. “They work a lot harder, working six or seven days a week.”
By connecting with someone in different part of the world, seventh-grader Sierra Paulsen said she learned to appreciate where she lives. “A lot of countries are dangerous and the people learn how to deal with the conditions. It becomes normal to them. We’re lucky to live where we do not have to deal with a lack of safety,’ said Paulsen.
Ninth-grader Melinda Ramsey and seventh-grader Julianne Kessinger said they were surprised about the number of similarities they discovered.
“Seeing the differences and similarities of Honduras and the U.S., made me realize people are not quite as different as I thought they were,” said Ramsey.
“Even though they are in a different place, they like the same things as we do,” noted Kessinger.