Cherokee Nation Foundation recently held an innovative cultural exchange program connecting Cherokee students in Oklahoma with students in the United Kingdom, according to a media release.
The program, Nation to Nation, uses digital media to encourage students to bridge cultural divides through hands-on curriculum designed by their peers.
“Technology is continuously changing the game in education, and we are proud to be part of that advancement,” said Kimberlie Gilliland, executive director of the Cherokee Nation Foundation, in the release. “The students were able to develop a better understanding of how cultures differ throughout the world from a firsthand experience. It was inspiring to see them form a sense of pride and ownership in their culture as they shared it with the students overseas.”
The program began in September with a virtual launch at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah. Seventh-grade students from Maryetta Middle School, Fort Gibson Middle School and Sequoyah Middle School were joined via Skype by students from two schools in the United Kingdom.
Fort Gibson Enrichment Coordinator Kate Mock said the cultural exchange program is just what the school needed to advance its global education initiatives.
“We are combining history and tradition with technology to preserve our culture,” Mock said in the release. “This type of cross-cultural learning is not available through normal curriculum, so the students are engaged and eager to learn. They feel empowered by their heritage and the opportunity to share their world with their peers overseas.”
Students spent weeks developing curriculum for their partnering classrooms about the culture, language and art specific to their area. Portions of the Cherokee curriculum were developed with the assistance of Cherokee National Treasure Jane Osti. Through a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council, Osti shared her knowledge and pottery expertise with students in Oklahoma to help deliver information to their British counterparts.