Cultural exchanges benefit local high school students

A local cultural exchange is helping some students learn about peers who might otherwise seem like they live a world away – even though they live across the Twin Cities.

Students in Advanced Placement Human Geography and Honors Spanish 2 met with eighth graders from Global Academy at Lakeville North on Nov. 21.

North students in Human Geography met with Global Academy students who completed photographic essays as part of their elective course. North students who are in Honors Spanish met with students studying Arabic. 

Lakeville North Advanced Placement human geography students view an exhibit of photos created by eighth graders at Global Academy. The gallery walk was part of a local cultural exchange between LNHS and the Columbia Heights charter school.

Lakeville North Advanced Placement human geography students view an exhibit of photos created by eighth graders at Global Academy. The gallery walk was part of a local cultural exchange between LNHS and the Columbia Heights charter school.

The goal is to introduce Lakeville students to people from cultures they have been studying, said Susan Clark, who teaches Advanced Placement Human Geography.

The Columbia Heights charter school serves about 450 students in Kindergarten through grade 8, said Andy Charrier, technology coordinator at Global Academy. Most students are either immigrants themselves or their parents immigrated to the United States. Most are of East African decent and are Muslim.

For the Global Academy photography students, the exchange offered a chance to display their work and share their experiences while learning about Lakeville’s students, Charrier said.

“It’s very different culturally in some ways from students in Lakeville,” Clark noted, but there are similarities, such as age. “I think going to find out they have a lot of similar interests.”

Adna Warsame of Global Academy and Lakeville North Spanish students Madison Kowalski, Elizabeth Duerksen and Natalie Shea said they enjoyed talking about how they learn language. Madison, Elizabeth and Natalie said they enjoyed seeing how their Spanish nicknames used in class would be translated into Arabic. 

Lakeville North Spanish students Madison Kowalski, Elizabeth Duerksen and Natalie Shea talk with Adna Warsame of Global Academy about learning languages. The discussion was part of a local cultural exchange between the two schools.

Lakeville North Spanish students Madison Kowalski, Elizabeth Duerksen and Natalie Shea talk with Adna Warsame of Global Academy about learning languages. The discussion was part of a local cultural exchange between the two schools.

“It’s really cool to see the differences in languages and how they’re written,” Elizabeth said.

AP Human Geography students Meghan Dunne and Katie Fecke said they enjoyed getting to meet Nezrene Crisp from Global Academy as they admired her photos.

Nezrene said she chose to focus on her personality and her hopes and dreams for her photography display, which she enjoyed sharing. The three girls seemed to enjoy the conversation just as much.

“It’s interesting to see different perspectives that you usually don’t get to see,” Katie said.

Nezrene said she thought it was interesting to see differences in languages offered between the schools and even size of families.

“I think they like talking to each other, and they’re really comfortable having conversations, which was kind of a surprise,” Charrier said, noting Global Academy’s students come from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. The opportunity to come to a suburb like this and interact with people who are in many ways the same but also are different was good for both schools.

“We asked a question at the end, and they said ‘oh, we are a lot the same,’” Charrier said. “That’s what we were hoping for.” 

Meghan Dunne, left, and Kate Fecke talk with Nezrene Crisp of Global Academy during a local cultural exchange Nov. 21. Lakeville North's advance placement human geography students said they enjoyed learning about Nezrene's photography project.

Meghan Dunne, left, and Kate Fecke talk with Nezrene Crisp of Global Academy during a local cultural exchange Nov. 21. Lakeville North’s advance placement human geography students said they enjoyed learning about Nezrene’s photography project.

The two schools hope to continue the opportunities in subsequent years.

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