iEARN Global Projects - When Innovation Meets Tradition

Vpe Testimonies And Story

These were just a few of the messages that came fast and furious in the Zoom chat box when students and educators from across the globe presented their projects at iEARN’s recent Virtual Project Exhibition. The biannual Virtual Project Exhibition is an opportunity for students and educators to showcase their incredible iEARN project work and outcomes to a global audience. At our recent exhibition last month, students and educators presented 8 projects, and although they were all inspiring, two in particular stood out: ‘GOLD’: Global Ownership of Learning and Development’ and ‘Folk Costumes Around the Globe’. Student presenters of these projects showcased their well-developed global competencies alongside their teachers, whose vision and passion clearly set the stage for remarkable project success.  

While Covid-19 was upending the education landscape, teachers Ekaterina Bozodogan (from Turkey) and Melanie Ranson (from the U.S.) were seeing firsthand the impact the pandemic was having on their first grade students’ academic progress, as well as their social and emotional well-being. Wasting no time in considering how they could support their students, Ms. Bozdogan and Ms. Ranson decided to innovate their curriculum, forming a global collaboration and creating the ‘GOLD’ project. In addition to encouraging global collaboration and openness to other cultures, this project centered on children’s rights in the context of the pandemic, fostering their creativity in the process through an international exhibition of student artwork and a collaboratively performed song - “The World is Small”. 

"The World is Small" Song

There is little doubt that this incredibly heart-warming video clip of the ‘GOLD’ project students singing together (albeit remotely from their homes), really stole the show at the Virtual Project Exhibition.

Besides the creativity of their students, the creativity and innovation that Ms. Bozdogan and Ms. Ranson displayed through designing and implementing this project in response to a pressing new need they identified (during a year of general stress and challenge for teachers), is truly remarkable. Also remarkable is the fact that both teachers are brand new to iEARN, representing some of our newest members showcased at the Virtual Project Exhibition.

On the other end of the spectrum is the ‘Folk Costumes Around the Globe’ project. This project, along with the teacher behind it Cornelia Platon, represent an established institution within iEARN. Inspired by the diverse and vibrant folk costumes displayed while attending her first iEARN international conference, Ms. Platon (a high school teacher from Romania) established the ‘Folk Costumes Around the Globe’ project 24 years ago - meaning next year the project is celebrating its silver jubilee! The project - which Ms. Platon refers to as her “soul project” - centers on building awareness of national values and traditions, while also fostering respect towards the values and traditions of other countries and cultures.

Folk Costumes Around The Globe

‘Folk Costumes Around the Globe’ teacher and project facilitator Cornelia Platon and her students.

On the surface, these projects are quite different in terms of their focus, age level, and context in which they were created. However importantly, what’s the same, is the global competencies students develop through participating in them. Global competence can often be challenging to define, with several different existing frameworks and models. However, central to just about all (including iEARN’s own student outcomes for global competence), are communication skills to connect with diverse audiences and openness and respect to other cultures and perspectives. And it just so happens that these global competencies in particular, were developed by students in the ‘GOLD’ and ‘Folk Costumes Around the Globe’ projects. 

I have never thought that I could learn so much about other cultures in such a short amount of time,” shared ‘Folk Costume' student Alexandra. Her classmate, Lorena, spoke of how the project fostered “good collaboration with students from different countries like India and Japan” and was a “unique experience, especially on account of learning and sharing new things and opinions.” Participating in iEARN projects truly allows students to become globally competent. Just ask teachers Ms. Bozdogan and Ms. Ranson, who noted how their “students have gained greater understanding of their own culture and confidence in communicating with students from other countries.

Another main tenet of global competence is connecting to and becoming a part of a global community. Oftentimes there is the belief that one needs to travel the world to accomplish this; however, while physical exchange is a great option when possible, it’s not accessible to all and certainly not the only option. iEARN projects allow students and teachers to become part of a global community through virtual exchange, connecting with peers around the world from the convenience of their classrooms (or homes as was the reality this past year). As first-grader Ceren from Turkey noted, “I felt proud and happy with this project. We met our friends in the video.”

These projects and the global competencies they developed would not have been possible without the inspirational teachers behind them, from the vision shown in designing and developing these projects to the passion exuded in making them a reality. Whether it was the innovation and collaboration of Ms. Bozdogan and Ms. Ranson in forming a global partnership to create a new project during a pandemic, or the dedication and commitment to tradition of Ms. Platon in celebrating cultural heritage and engaging participants from over 60 countries throughout 24 years, these teachers clearly exude what great teaching is all about.

Although developing global competencies in your students can sometimes seem confusing or even downright daunting, iEARN makes the process easily achievable, as well as accessible. As Ms. Ranson noted, “We come from a small, rural school division where opportunities of this nature are few and far between.” Take advantage of the opportunity iEARN offers and bring the world to your students through participating in an iEARN project; your students will thank you!. As 11th grader Alexandra expressed, “I hope that I will have the chance to participate in this project again in the future, it was an unforgettable experience!” And according to first-grader Ece,“This project makes me happy. I want to do more projects.” You can join ‘GOLD’, ‘Folk Costumes Around the Globe’. or one of our other over 100 K-12 projects! 

Project Book Cover

Browse our Project Book to see which of our over 100 K-12 projects fits your curriculum, interest, and needs best.

Besides being a great resource for projects that develop global competence, iEARN is also a collaborative and connected community of educators. Join passionate educators Ms. Bozdogan, Ms. Ranson, and Ms. Platon - as well as so many more! - through joining or renewing your iEARN membership today. Take Ms. Platon’s word for it who shared, “iEARN gave me the chance to meet wonderful people, to develop my teaching career and enrich my multicultural awareness, knowledge and skills as well as to understand that educators have the same mission all over the world. iEARN is my second family and I could not imagine my professional life without it.”