Guest blog post by Jessica Fiddes, Communications Director at Delbarton School in Morristown, NJ.
On January 14, Delbarton School launched a new foreign language exchange pilot program that connects Arabic II language students with peers at Pioneers Baccalaureate School in Nablus, West Bank. Pioneers describes its curriculum as “Established to build a generation of learners equipped to lead…Our graduates will be prepared to innovate, think creatively, and contribute to building a better Palestine.”
The new virtual exchange program with Pioneers is guided by Director of Global Programs Dan Pieraccini and teacher of Arabic Zack Tabor, and organized by Level Up Village which, earlier this year, helped teacher Caroline Chamberlain’s 8th Grade Science students build 3-D projects with students in Uganda.
We visited Tabor’s classroom on launch day to watch juniors putting together video presentations to send to their virtual video pen pals in Palestine, and they were looking forward to receiving similar videos from Pioneers students. Hearing our students speaking in Arabic made for an interesting Delbarton moment.
“We hope to engage culturally and colloquially with native speakers and build relationships using the linguistic tools we have developed. This is the reason students study another language—in order to communicate with another audience. We also firmly believe in the necessity of engaging a diversity of human experience to deepen our ability to empathize, understand ourselves, and interact with other humans—to be global citizens.” – Zach Tabor, Arabic teacher at Delbarton School
The boys are midway through their second year of studying the language, and will produce videos once a week for the next five weeks. Tabor guided the boys (in impressively fluent Arabic) as they began to communicate with high school peers half a world away.
Tabor says, “We hope to engage culturally and colloquially with native speakers and build relationships using the linguistic tools we have developed. This is the reason students study another language—in order to communicate with another audience.”
Meanwhile, Delbarton hosts more than a dozen trips and exchanges that stretch over five continents, and this year’s new virtual exchanges reflect our initiative to use technology to broaden our reach. Pieraccini comments about the school-based virtual programs, “Even when students can’t budget time or resources into a homestay, community service, or other experience abroad, we can still bring these opportunities to Delbarton classrooms.”
“We also firmly believe,” says Tabor, “in the necessity of engaging a diversity of human experience to deepen our ability to empathize, understand ourselves, and interact with other humans—to be global citizens.”
This article was originally posted on the Delbarton School website by Jessica Fiddes. Click here for more photos. Recent press about this project: Education World: Global STEAM Program Announces First Virtual Arabic Culture Exchange 1.20.16