Our ‘Teach Your Heart Out’ Virtual Conference Winners

Jan 5, 2021 | News, Teachers

We are excited to announce the winners of our Teach Your Heart Out Virtual Conference competition.

Harvin Thomas from Jamaica and Richard Auka from Kenya were chosen as our winners for planning authentic and engaging cultural activities for their students.

We are so proud of them and all of our teachers for prioritizing culture in their classrooms and completing their cultural reports for the 2020-2021 school year.


Richard Auka (Halifax County Schools)

Section A Activity – An activity for the teacher’s classroom, larger host school, or host school district population, or at the community at large designed to give an overview of the history, traditions, heritage, culture, economy, educational system and/or other attributes of his or her home country.

Veterans Day is a holiday set apart to commemorate the end of World War 1 in 1918 and as such we trooped to the Park to engage with people to share our common feelings towards achieving a peaceful society.

Apparently, the commemoration shares the same ethos we uphold in Kenya when we talk about Mashujaa Day, which is heroes and heroines day, who fought for our freedom but also those who strive to leave blueprints on the planet. We have a national holiday, usually October 20th every year, to celebrate great figures who shaped and continue to shape the destiny of Kenya.

Generally, we hoped to create awareness in the community about the need to uphold peace and unity that transcends the borders of our nations. The few people we interacted with were reserved about taking pictures and videos. This is due to the fact that there is very low awareness about cultural exchange in this place. So we just took pictures of ourselves but we were grateful to share experiences about our two nations that promoted peaceful coexistence.




Harvin Thomas (Onslow County Schools)

Section B Activity – An activity that involves U.S. student dialogue with schools or students in another country, preferably in the exchange teacher’s homeschool, through virtual exchange or other means, in order to supplement the goals of the in-person exchange.

Students were allowed to have dialogue with students from the Ardenne Preparatory School in Jamaica through a meeting on Microsoft Teams. The meeting was conducted as the teacher emailed me an invitation to her class while she met with her students for remote learning. I displayed the meeting on the promethean board in my classroom and have my students communicate from my computer.

Students from both schools shared how they felt about online learning versus face-to-face. There were students that preferred staying at home because they felt safer at home during this pandemic, while other students wanted to be in the classroom to see their friends and teacher in person.

Students also took turns talking about their school and country. Students were able to make similarities and differences about the weather, foods, buildings, etc. Students in Jamaica shared that it was warm all year round in Jamaica and that there was never any snow there. Jamaican students spoke about the national dish ‘ackee and saltfish’, the beaches, hotels and music.

Students from my class here in NC talked about their school day; traveling to school on the school bus, collecting breakfast at the cafeteria and their overall class schedule.

Students from both schools also showed off their dance moves. We were able to do a tour around our classroom showing the students what our classroom looks like as well.

Prior to having this dialogue among students from these two schools, an overview of what would happen and a permission for consent form was sent home with the students. Parents signed giving their consent for their children to participate in this cultural exchange dialogue.

This session enriched students’ knowledge about what is currently happening in other places in the world, because while they were in their classroom wearing masks and learning in school, the students in Jamaica were all at home learning online.

Students from both sides of the meeting were excited and left learning something new about each other’s country and each wanted to visit the other country.


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