The ongoing pandemic has established one thing for sure - the power of the internet to connect people. We live most of our lives virtually, be it attending lectures online, holding a meeting, talking to friends and family, or merely scrolling away on social media or surfing the net. All this makes it a perfect time to participate in a virtual cultural exchange program.
There is a voluntary correspondence of knowledge, ideas, traditions, and views with peers from different backgrounds in cultural exchange. In some universities, students from other countries or cultural backgrounds swap places to explore cultures, alternative learning environments, and broaden their perspective of the world. To be honest, a full-fledged cultural exchange program can be quite an expensive affair. And the current situation has temporarily put such programs on hold. But a virtual one solves this problem, courtesy of the internet. You get to interact with and learn from students belonging to different countries, without spending on travel and stay.
Don't let the word 'virtual' dishearten you. We've come with some amazing activities that will make your exchange program a fun and memorable one.
Experience the World through Flavours
Food is definitely the most essential and fun part of experiencing any culture. Through it, one can learn about a country's history, unique flavours, and cooking techniques. Most of us love watching food videos or reading recipes from different countries. But getting acquainted with cuisines with peers is a whole new experience. In this activity, you can discuss a favourite dish from your country, explain its importance, its cultural significance, and then share the recipe with your peers. This way, everyone can exchange and try out these recipes while learning the history behind it.
Bond over Music and Movies
Music and movies are the two powerful tools that connect people and help them travel to different lands, all while sitting in their rooms. And language is never a barrier here. Indian shows like Sacred Games, Made in Heaven, and Delhi Crime with Emmy nominations have been making waves globally. With the Korean movie Parasite bagging, quite a few Oscars to the K-Pop group, BTS’s takeover of the international music scene, is only a pleasant change that we are witness to. Now, more than ever, people are consuming content from different parts of the world. Share personal favourite music, TV series, and movies from your country with your peers. Talk about what makes it good and why you are recommending it. This activity will surely introduce you to new cultures and stories from around the world.
Dive into the World of Folklore
Imagine a campfire set-up with all your buddies roasting marshmallows and narrating interesting stories turn by turn. This activity is just that, but as with everything these days, it’s virtual. It calls for sharing folklore - an art form that has been preserved amongst a group of people and passed down to generations verbally. Grab a drink, your favourite snack, and listen to exciting folklore from different countries.
Can you guess the word?
Language is a vital part of communication; through language, we can communicate our ideas and thoughts. With globalisation taking over, it is a good decision to pick up a new language. If you are confused as to which one to pick, then this fun activity might help you. Take turns to exchange random words from your languages and have others guessing its meaning. Be ready for some hilarious answers coming your way! This activity will make you realise how many languages are connected to one another. You’ll get an understanding of different languages and also learn new words to add to your vocabulary.
Each country has a different perspective on things. A person might perceive ongoing situations differently depending on their country and what information they have at their disposal. In this activity, you will have to list different things such as global phenomenons, topical issues, famous personalities, apps, video games, etc. Each person will then write down their views on the listed things. This activity will help you expand your worldview and introduce you to different perspectives. It calls for a healthy discussion about ideologies, makes you realise that things aren't always as they seem and that there is the other side to everything.
More than ever, we must utilize all the digital tools we have to make us global citizens. Virtual cultural exchange is imperative as it provides a student with an intimate glimpse into another student's culture, routine, and habits, living in a different country. This cultural exchange will enable one to see the world through a new lens and make many lifelong friends worldwide.