The Student Dialogue Series: A Virtual Invitation to Global Conversations

In a world more connected than ever, personal conversations can be surprisingly hard to find. Princeton Day School’s participation in the Global Education Benchmark Group’s (GEBG) Student Dialogue Series seeks to change that. 

Upper School students have the opportunity to connect with students from around the world who are also part of the GEBG’s Student Dialogue Series. While the Series was created during the height of the pandemic as a way to maintain cross-cultural, international contacts at a time when international travel was not feasible, it has remained an invaluable experience for students seeking to discover a world outside of their own “bubble.”

Christian Cousins, US Spanish teacher  and Global Studies Coordinator, says, “It was a huge success last year and we are really looking forward to continuing it.”  Kids from all over the world log in at the same time -- so it could be 12:30pm here  in Princeton, New Jersey, but it would be 10:30pm in India.” The real-time participation for all participants is just one aspect of what makes this program so unique.

Cousins continues, “Several hundred people will all gather in the same room to answer some polls or watch a video and then up to 13 students each are put into Zoom rooms with a faculty member from one of the participating schools. The  faculty member sits back while students drive the conversation, unless they start circling a topic and need some help  moving on.” Cousins recognizes that it can sound intimidating to some students when they realize that they’re the ones responsible for maintaining the flow of the call, but the responsibility to do the heavy lifting in a conversation with a stranger from another country is part of the magic. “These students are amazing to watch,” Cousins says, “They bounce ideas off  each other, they answer tough questions about climate change, educational access, equity and what justice looks like in other countries—they are totally engaged.” 

Cousins says that the program can have a profound impact on the lives of students. “Last year, during our last meeting, I asked students about their experiences. Most students agreed that the opportunity to have direct contact with someone from another country was a life-changing experience. My aspirations for this program  are not for students to change their lives right after one conversation, but to help plant the seeds that will broaden their horizon of expectations about what is actually possible.” 

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