Title

International Pen Pal Project as an Engaging Experience to Increase Students' Cultural Competency and Prepare for Work with Immigrant and Refugee Families

Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Advisor

Olena Nesteruk

Access Type

Event

Start Date

26-4-2023 9:45 AM

End Date

26-4-2023 10:44 AM

Description

Incorporating pen pal experiences into existing courses can help enhance students’ learning engagement and understanding of the course concepts. It can also increase students’ cultural competency and awareness of global issues that affect families, and help to prepare them for working with diverse populations. This proposal will share the perspectives of two students and a professor who participated in the International Pen Pal Project as part of an undergraduate course on immigrant families. The project was developed to enhance student learning of the course concepts related to immigrant and refugee populations, push and pull factors in migration, displaced persons, and transnational families. A connection was established between two international communities: a class of the Family Science and Human Development majors at Montclair and a group of middle-school students and their teacher in Ukraine. Randomly assigned pen pal partners spent a semester communicating about various topics via email, postcards, social media, and videos. As future educators and family services professionals, students had a chance to develop cross-cultural competency and prepare for work in communities with immigrants and refugees (many of whom are arriving in the U.S. seeking refuge from Russian invasion). This poster will share reflections from project participants (benefits, challenges, lessons learned) and review previous studies on pen pal projects in educational settings. By sharing our research, we hope to encourage educators to add international connections to their courses in order to help students engage with course materials in more meaningful ways, increase cultural competency, and become better prepared professionals.

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Apr 26th, 9:45 AM Apr 26th, 10:44 AM

International Pen Pal Project as an Engaging Experience to Increase Students' Cultural Competency and Prepare for Work with Immigrant and Refugee Families

Incorporating pen pal experiences into existing courses can help enhance students’ learning engagement and understanding of the course concepts. It can also increase students’ cultural competency and awareness of global issues that affect families, and help to prepare them for working with diverse populations. This proposal will share the perspectives of two students and a professor who participated in the International Pen Pal Project as part of an undergraduate course on immigrant families. The project was developed to enhance student learning of the course concepts related to immigrant and refugee populations, push and pull factors in migration, displaced persons, and transnational families. A connection was established between two international communities: a class of the Family Science and Human Development majors at Montclair and a group of middle-school students and their teacher in Ukraine. Randomly assigned pen pal partners spent a semester communicating about various topics via email, postcards, social media, and videos. As future educators and family services professionals, students had a chance to develop cross-cultural competency and prepare for work in communities with immigrants and refugees (many of whom are arriving in the U.S. seeking refuge from Russian invasion). This poster will share reflections from project participants (benefits, challenges, lessons learned) and review previous studies on pen pal projects in educational settings. By sharing our research, we hope to encourage educators to add international connections to their courses in order to help students engage with course materials in more meaningful ways, increase cultural competency, and become better prepared professionals.