One of our school-wide goals is to build more relationships with Ursuline schools internationally to better understand one another on a global level, and to utilize the international nature of Ursuline ministries to provide opportunities for our students to engage in global learning. By doing so, we are able to make connections for our students in the classrooms and create opportunities for dialogue and understanding among Ursuline students and co-workers around the globe.
In late October, Mr. Mark Bratkowski’s junior English classes had the opportunity to have a virtual discussion with junior classes at Brescia House in Bryanston (Johannesburg suburb), South Africa. The primary topics of conversation were around “unconscious bias”, siting post-apartheid South Africa and the Black Lives Matter movement, but they also engaged in conversations about cultural differences, and what a typical day might look like for them outside of these issues. Students participated in a nearly hour-long conversation and compared their everyday experiences, government structures, and how their countries were handling the pandemic. By being able to share in a dialog students were able to not only talk about their own worldview but also ask questions of each other to gain new perspectives.
Our Ursuline connection with South Africa has been growing and developing over recent years. Students and teachers from Ursuline Academy St. Louis have had opportunities to visit South Africa both in 2018 and 2014, while students from South African Ursuline schools participated in an exchange program and visited St. Louis in 2017.