The Peace Corps has been working internationally for more than 50 years in more than 139 countries. The Peace Corps has kept true to its mission over the years, “to promote world peace and friendship.” The Peace Corps is more vital than ever, working in collaboration with partner organizations and using cutting-edge technologies and well-tested best practices to enhance impact.
What better way to have students learn about the world than to partner with a Peace Corps volunteer in a country where the language they study is spoken. There is a division of the Peace Corps dedicated to providing these opportunities to teachers. It is called World Wise Schools and teachers can search for lesson plans and also apply to get a Peace Corps Exchange Partner. This program connects classrooms with a Peace Corps Volunteer serving abroad. Peace Corps Volunteers in the field exchange emails, letters, videos, photographs, and telephone calls with classrooms.
I have had a Peace Corps Exchange partner for several years and I have had novice and intermediate level exchanges between my students and students in a school in Senegal. Culture can start at the novice level. In fact, my 3rd grade class had an informative and interesting exchange. They began by writing a few sentences about themselves on one side of a sheet of paper (in French) and drew and labeled their family and home on the back. We sent these to Sam, our Peace Corps Volunteer, in Senegal along with blank copies of the paper that my students completed. Sam did the same activity with her students and sent them back. There were so many great conversations that happened simply by looking at way my students drew and labeled their families and homes and how that compared to the drawings of the Senegalese students.
Take advantage of the many great opportunities out there to connect students to the culture of the language that they are studying. No need to wait for intermediate or advanced levels, it can start at the novice level.