Moroccan Exchange Joins Students Across Oceans


Through Google Classroom, students participate in a virtual exchange with Moroccan students. (Source: Lindsey Jiang (IV))

From January to May, Boston Latin School’s Class IV students participated in a virtual exchange with students from Morocco to deepen their understanding of global awareness.

The Morocco Virtual Exchange was an opportunity for American students to engage with people outside of their country and examine their differences and similarities. In the process, the students developed strong connections with one another.

During a typical school year, BLS students would meet the international students in person. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, that option is no longer a possibility. Students were still able to engage with their peers from across the world and expand their global knowledge through Zoom and Google Classroom.

Throughout the program, the directors assigned work and discussions for the students to converse with one another. In the beginning, asynchronous work was distributed on Google Classroom for the students. Some assignments included describing the courses they took at school, and their hobbies as well as doing self-reflections. Later, they would create videos on the Flipgrid platform introducing themselves and creating video tours of their neighborhoods.

Students also had the opportunity to chat with one another via live synchronous Zoom meetings during weekends. While most topics related to cultural differences and societal issues, students also discussed subjects ranging from music and holidays to world peace and climate change. Despite possible language barriers, the conversations were easily facilitated.

Participant Joshua Rand (IV) says, “We also had a lot of discussions that were very insightful and fun. […] Laughing along with other people is always a good way to connect.”

This program was coordinated by BLS History Program Director Mr. Thomas Kennelly and his colleague from Agadir High School in Morocco, Mr. Kamal El Chaoui. With the help of the Clough Center for Global Education and the Stevens Initiative, they made it possible for students to build relationships with teenagers from across the Atlantic Ocean.

The successful initiation of the program did not come without challenges. At first, the sessions were supposed to be one-on-one discussions among students, but different time zones and Zoom issues made it difficult to connect with their peers.

Mr. Brian Smith, a ninth-grade World History teacher, elaborates, “I think [a] challenge was coordinating schedules and identifying the time to host live meetings with BLS students and Moroccan students given the time difference. I do think once we got up and running, everything was fine.”

Regardless of the challenges, multiple students and teachers expressed that the experience was authentic and genuine.

Mr. Kennelly concludes, “The big takeaway is to support the students in developing their empathy for individuals from different backgrounds and cultures and help to support their global understanding and awareness.”