Cross-cultural Communication Project



Cross-cultural Communication Project: A collaboration between Sabancı University (Türkiye), University of Wisconsin (USA) & Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Brazil)

Tuğba Yıldırım Kumbasar

I’m excited to share that we have successfully completed the Cross-Cultural Communication Project, a collaborative effort between Sabancı University (Türkiye), the University of Wisconsin (USA), and Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Brazil). This project brought together Route 3 students from Sabancı University, students from the University of Wisconsin’s Physical Geography 1: Weather and Climate course, and students from UFOP’s Academic Genres course for the Spring Semester. Working closely with Assoc. Prof. Erin DeMuynck from the University of Wisconsin and Assist. Prof. Jhuliane Silva from the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, we identified shared goals and designed a learning process that could benefit everyone involved, fostering meaningful interactions among students from the U.S., Türkiye, and Brazil. Our project focused on how physical geography impacts human life and vice versa, covering key themes in the Physical Geography course.

During the process, students engaged in a variety of activities, including individual work, pair collaborations, and group projects, featuring both written and spoken online interactions. Students were provided a platform where they engaged in rich discussions based on personal experiences and news articles related to local environmental challenges. Specifically, the process started with students introducing themselves on a collaborative blog, sharing personal stories, and commenting on each other's posts to get to know their peers better. This was followed by small group video chats where they discussed weather and climate issues in their communities. After these video chats, students collaborated on writing tasks to summarize their discussions and share reflections. We repeated this process, adding more research and preparation for the second round of video chats, where they discussed climate change news articles from Türkiye, the United States, and Brazil.

Based on student feedback, this project has been a wonderful experience, bringing students from different cultures together to learn and grow through shared insights and discussions. Many students highlighted the invaluable opportunity to communicate with peers from different countries, which broadened their perspectives on global issues like climate change and enriched their understanding of diverse cultures. They appreciated the chance to exchange stories about their own lives and countries, gaining insights beyond what media can provide. One student noted that the project significantly enhanced their English communication skills, as they felt more at ease and fluent during online conversations compared to classroom settings. Another student mentioned that the use of technology enabled them to connect with international peers, an experience that would have been nearly impossible in person. Additionally, several students observed that the project not only fostered a sense of global community but also emphasized the importance of shared responsibility towards sustainable practices. The discussions on universal challenges like climate change demonstrated the need for international cooperation. Overall, the students found the project to be a meaningful experience, contributing to their personal growth and global awareness.

Below are some of the quotes from the students who shared their experiences in the project:

“I think the most valuable thing about the project was that we told each other about our own countries, both good and bad. Because it is very difficult to find this information from the first person on the internet. Therefore, it was more valuable for us to hear them from the public rather than the media.”

“It provided a more realistic English speaking experience, unlike the academic English I spoke in classes.”

“Actually the preparation part is a bit boring even if they are useful, but meetings were nice and learning lots of things and meeting with various people in 1 hour is amazing.”

“I think meeting with different types of people in an hour is most valuable part. If we didn't do this project and we try to meet with them face to face it would be nearly impossible. However we could have a chance to meet with international people thanks to technology and this opportunity which was given by Tuğba teacher.”

“My self-confidence has improved a lot in this project. It was very interesting for us to talk to people we didn't know and I learned about other cultures.”

“Thanks to this project, I realized the importance of climate and I thought and researched about what I can do to reduce the impact of climate change.”

This project has been an enriching experience also for us as their teachers, from planning to implementing the process. It gave us the unique opportunity to delve deeper into each other's classrooms and uncover the rich tapestry of similarities and differences among our students in three diverse cultural settings. We discovered interesting aspects, from the academic calendars of the universities to the varied needs of students in each context. Monitoring these conversations has also given us fresh insights into youth life and perspectives across different cultures. We are happy that this collaboration has laid a strong foundation and provided us with valuable lessons. This experience will undoubtedly help us enhance and expand such opportunities, bringing even more students together through future collaborations.

Here is the link to the Cross-cultural Communication Project website, which provides a glimpse into the process.