Students studying Spanish complete virtual exchange with partner university in Chile, exchange serves as pilot for fall

A zoom picture of GVSU students and students from the University of Bio-Bio in Chile.
Image Credit: Courtesy photo

Students studying Spanish during the Spring 2020 semester participated in a virtual language and cultural exchange with students learning English at a partner university, the University of Bio-Bio, in Chillan, Chile. 

Over the course of several weeks, students from both universities participated in conversational exchanges via Zoom. 

The virtual exchange was organized by instructor Mike Vrooman, interim chief international officer at the Padnos International Center. 

Vrooman said students began with recording introductory videos and then were given tasks centered on specific language goals and cultural comparisons. 

"Students learned how their exchange partners were navigating the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and compared those challenges with daily life pre-COVID," said Vrooman. "They identified and discussed their programs of study, their interests and hobbies, and shared stereotypes." 

Students participating in the virtual exchange represented several majors and programs, including biomedical sciences, education, engineering, finance, nursing, psychology, Spanish and statistics. Several students who studied at the University of Bio-Bio last summer also participated in the virtual exchange.

During the last virtual exchange, GVSU students were interviewed about the program by a Chilean reporter.

Vrooman said the virtual exchange served as a pilot for a number of virtual exchange opportunities the Padnos International Center will be coordinating starting in the fall semester.