Cross-Cultural Connections Through the IELC and Beyond

During Collegiate School's sixth annual International Emerging Leaders Conference this week, four delegates from a high school in Lebanon shared a heartwarming video with a group of 5th Graders who have their own connection to Lebanon, and who were actually featured in the film.

These 5th Graders were students of Carolyn Villanueva last year, and as part of Mrs. Villanueva's 4th Grade immigration instruction, the class sent letters to Syrian children living in refugee camps in Lebanon. The 5th Graders also created a video about the value of education, to encourage their international counterparts.

Bylasan Ahmad, one of the four Lebanese IELC student delegates this year also participated in the conference last year, and she served as the facilitator for these efforts.

When she returned home after the 2015 conference, this high schooler connected Mrs. Villaneuva's class with Syrian students in Lebanon, who live in a refugee camp and attend Nour Center, a school designed for refugee chlidren.

The two groups of youths participated in a letter-writing exchange, and Bylasan shared the Collegiate students' video with leaders of Nour Center, who decided to have the student refugees respond with a video of their own.

On Thursday, Bylasan and other members of the Lebanese IELC delegation showed the now-5th Graders the video, which combined footage from their original project with footage from the Syrian refugees' school.

The video illustrates an appreciation for the importance of education from both the Collegiate students' and Syrian students' perspectives, and hints at the stark contrast in their experiences.

The Collegiate 5th Graders who viewed the video yesterday during their visit with Bylasan and her classmates expressed sadness over the vast differences, but also gratitude to have made such important connections.

They began brainstorming additional ways to support the refugee students, such as through video letters, and by sharing the refugee students' experiences with other Collegiate Middle Schoolers. 

The visit between the Lebanese high school students and the Collegiate 5th Graders was one of many special encounters this week that reinforced the value of cross-cultural collaboration and global connections that Collegiate has long fostered.  Bylasan and the 40 other high school students who traveled from 10 nations around the globe to participate in IELC this week will return home on Oct. 10; however, their impact and the connections formed, will continue.

To view the student video project, click here.

To learn more about the International Emerging Leaders Conference (IELC), click here.