US and Mexican Students Continue their Online Collaboration

Students in David Shrum’s English program at the Universidad de Celaya, Mexico, and students in Kathleen McKenna’s Effective Speaking class met for the final time this semester to say farewell. They had worked together every Tuesday during the semester, telling stories, giving informative and persuasive speeches, and discussing the topics raised in the speeches.

The Mexican students included future architects, nutritionists, and automotive engineers, to name a few of their majors. The US students included future sports managers, social workers, and communications specialists, to name a few of their majors.

The students learned about common interests in food, music, and movies, and about differences between their cultures. The US students were interested in the difference between Santa Muerta and Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. They enjoyed seeing the architecture of Mexico’s beautiful museums through the eyes of a future architect. They also felt the triumphs and defeats of a Mexican student who is a world-class runner.

The US students were amazed by the Mexican students’ dedication and their English skills–they were not enrolled in a class, but they saw the value of hearing from, and giving speeches each week, in English, to their US peers.

The Mexican students engaged in insightful conversation after a US student gave a speech persuading students not to drink alcohol. The US student had lost a parent to alcoholism. Students in both countries discussed the use of alcohol for dealing with emotions, and the influence of the alcohol industry in both countries. The students and faculty members are planning future international discussions on this topic.

Finally, the Mexican students were moved by the speech of a US paramedic student who spoke to persuade everyone to give blood. The blood supply is low in the US and even lower in Mexico. The Mexican students had many questions about how the Red Cross system works in the US and are planning an on-campus blood drive for September. SUNY Broome is exploring joining them and making it an international blood drive, to help secure a safe, sustainable supply of blood locally, nationally, and internationally.

Plan to join us as we think globally, and act locally. Stay tuned for more information in the fall.

If you’d like to explore giving your students the opportunity to work with their peers around the world (synchronously or asynchronously), reach out to Kathleen McKenna at

Submitted by: Collaborative Online International Learning