2015 Busting Boundaries

Katherine Mussachio

International Connections Academy
2015 Winner for Busting Boundaries Award
About Busting Boundaries Award

Inspires students to work in-person or virtually with peers in different geographic or cultural communities.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

The “Around the World in 60 Minutes“ events are truly “Busting Boarders” for the students at International Connections Academy. At each event, a handful of students create a presentation about where they live, and share it in a synchronous assembly in front of the student body. Students compile pictures, videos, music and information about the food, art, entertainment, lifestyles, and language of their corner of the world. After all of the presentations, there is the opportunity for questions and the students connect to each other even more. “What is your favorite snack?” one student asks of our presenters. A collective “Ewwww” comes from the audience when the student from Djibouti elaborates on cheese product from a tin can. International Connections Academy served students from 48 states and 44 countries during the 2014-2015 school year. With so much distance between the students, it is important that the school community is dedicated to busting boundaries. Busting the boundary of the computer, the household, the region and the country. Through the “Around the World” events, the students realize just how unique each of them is, and they relish in that, while at the same time taking note of their similarities. They each have their hopes, dreams, families, friends, and traditions. The “Around the World” program introduces students to a life outside of their house, and encourages them to embrace other cultures and celebrate each other.

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

There have been four "Around the World in 60 Minutes" events, and we’ve visited 24 unique locations. We no longer need to reach out to students to see who will be willing to present. Before our first event was over, I had messages in my inbox: “Can I present about my home at the next Around the World?” At that time, there were no plans for a follow up event. But, we saw the demand, met with our new recruits to have them create presentations, sent out the invite to our student body, and hosted “Around the World: The Journey Continues” the following month. One lasting impact that has been a result of these events is the developing understanding of the world beyond anything the students could get from a textbook or class lecture. Our student that presented about Saudi Arabia showed slides confronting misconceptions head-on: “This is how people picture us getting to work or school,” she says, showing a camel. “This is how we actually get to work or school,” showing a picture of car. Later in her presentation, she talks about the prevalence of social media amongst high school students in Saudi Arabia, just like in the U.S. Current world events are becoming more relevant as well. This past spring, as news filtered in about the earthquake in Japan, students waited anxiously in our synchronous lesson for a classmate from Japan to enter the room and give us the update that she and her family were safe. People on other continents are no longer faceless strangers. They are now friends.