For students at Spectrum School, Vietnam is more than a place where America fought an unpopular war. Vietnam is the home of a school a lot like the 40-year-old, innovative Spectrum at 2909 N. Main St. Students at both schools will get to know each other through a partnership between Spectrum and the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City.
For students at Spectrum School, Vietnam is more than a place where America fought an unpopular war.
Vietnam is the home of a school a lot like the 40-year-old, innovative Spectrum at 2909 N. Main St. Students at both schools will get to know each other through a partnership between Spectrum and the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City.
Now, it’s time to get acquainted with each other and each other’s world. Spectrum students are making a video about a day in the life of an American teen to share with the Vietnam youth. The project has spurred learning and discussion.
“I didn’t know that Vietnam is a communist country, and I wasn’t sure what the outcome of the war was,” said Matt Stravinskas, 15.
Stravinskas, along with Josh Graber, 15, and Brendon Crave, 14, have footage of family dinners, American highways and music, and an original song by Crave’s band, Orange Peel on Rye. They will also film friends, movies, pets, foods, traffic lights (Ho Chi Minh City has none), holidays, colleges, shopping malls, technology and clothes.
They are eager to hear what the Vietnamese teens think of their lives.
“We want them to like us but most of all, be honest with us,” said Graber.
It will be interesting, said teachers, to see what students of the two nations make of their radically different forms of government. School materials in Vietnam are censored to the point that staff has made arrangements to have the student-made video hand-delivered so it doesn’t get caught in customs.
The partnership will enable students to do more than learn “about” another Vietnam, said Spectrum Administrator Christine Klecamp. Study will move to a deeper level because Spectrum students will learn “from” Vietnamese students.
The partnership began a year ago when a former Rockford resident living in Seattle heard about schools in Asia wanting to pair up with American schools. He found the teaching philosophy of the Ho Chi Minh City school was similar to what he remembered of Spectrum, and got the two hooked up.
After a phone conversation with the Vietnamese school’s director, Klecamp thought they were a perfect match. Both schools use the “multiple intelligence” approach to learning, designing lessons so children can take in the knowledge through various hands-on activities, as well as seeing and hearing.
Klecamp and another staffer spent a week in Vietnam last month, and a staffer from Vietnam came to Spectrum for a two-day visit. They laid out plans for how the schools can help each other and what joint projects students can accomplish.
“Our goal is to provide educational and curriculum mentorship to them, and provide global, educational and cultural opportunities for our students,” Klecamp said.
The relationship began during the last semester of the 2006-07 school year but will involve more this year. Spectrum students and teachers have begun blogging with their counterparts in Ho Chi Minh City. Plans are being made for a bridge-building contest, in which students at each school will test their models while watching each other on a video conferencing system. Spectrum students may have an overnighter, Klecamp said, so they can take part at 8 p.m., when it is 8 a.m. in Vietnam.
More teacher visits are in the future, along with an exchange program for students.
Klecamp said the Vietnamese students would do well in any school.
“They are so engrossed in learning and so respectful,” she said. “They are aware of the sacrifices their parents are making to send them to this school.”
Staff writer Geri Nikolai can be reached at 815-987-1337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.