In spite of a pandemic, the objective for the Aspen-Bariloche Virtual Exchange was to find a way in which the students from Aspen, as well as those from Bariloche could still come together during these unprecedented times and have a cultural experience that they had longed for.
“Many students responded to the virtual proposal and though skeptical at first, each of the group encounters provided the students ways to get to know each other to become closer, ultimately establishing friendships through this virtual platform”, said Satya Leidner, who is the Bariloche student exchange coordinator from Aspen.
During the series of online meetings that were held in the month of October, students shared presentations of their families, friends and hometown. They also played games in small breakout groups such as scavenger hunt, two truths and a lie, kahoot and others. These activities, which facilitated the interaction between the kids, were organized and coordinated by the Educational Committee that included teachers from both Bariloche and Aspen. Students were encouraged to keep communicating with each other apart from attending the virtual group meetings.
Heather Wooldridge, member of the Aspen Sister Cities committee and parent of one of the students, said her daughter loved participating in the Bariloche virtual exchange: “She has cooked with her Bariloche friend via zoom and it has been really valuable even just from a Spanish speaking standpoint. It would be great to continue this program”.
In the closing meeting, the students and coordinators wore silly hats, glasses and wigs to celebrate while sharing pictures that they photo-shopped, where Aspen and Bariloche friends could virtually be seen together. The kids were grateful and happy with the overall experience and look forward to meeting each other in person some day. The Educational Committee members are very proud of the commitment of the students and hope that the relationship between the Aspen and Bariloche Sister Cities will continue to strengthen throughout the coming years despite any difficulties that may arise.