African Cultural Exchange (ACE) is a transformative strategic program that implements innovative tools of empathy to teach cultural harmony. The ACE program emerged from four years of a collaborative effort from social science researchers engaged in developing an interdisciplinary curriculum to prepare students from a very early stage for college, career, and civic life in a multicultural society. The program is based on a framework for Social Studies with keen observation of global ethical Standards and packaged for local school districts, schools, teachers, and curriculum writers — to strengthen their social studies programs.
The ACE program gives School-Age children the necessary foundation or adjustment of awareness cultural diversity and cultural harmony for people across ages, genders, and cultures. The program's objectives include to enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines; to cultivate or enhance the instinct towards critical thinking and targeted problem solving, and participatory skills to become engaged citizens; and aligning the common core academic standards in arts and literacy in History, Social Studies, STEM and Humanities. The Ace program covers culture's effect on civics, cultural arts, economics, geography, and history.
Every nation's paradigm is shifting from cultural homogeneity to cultural diversity. The term "cultural diversity" expresses the variety of our cultures as well as the uniqueness and value in each culture. Cultural harmony highlights the congruence of cultural strengths and the result of their synergy in a society. More and more, professional and faculty service providers must operate in cross-cultural contexts. Proper preparation is necessary to effectively prevent social threats and psychosocial health problems and generate more inclusive citizens of a multicultural society.
In short, cultural harmony is a national interest, and policy makers are encouraging programs geared to help bridge the existing cross-cultural competence deficit gap - making the need to address cultural competence imperative. Therefore, ACE serves as a necessary intervention in a multicultural community to develop or include cultural competence as part of the curricular or extracurricular educational processes, especially for children.
The ACE program is innovative in instilling cross-cultural understanding and in inspiring cultural harmony. The program is appealing to all school-age children from all cultural backgrounds, including adolescents; with ample opportunity to develop their capacities in a safe and supportive environment, as well as promote the physical, psychological, spiritual, social, emotional, cognitive, and cultural development of children as a matter of national and global priority.
Empathy allows us to identify with and understand another's situation, feelings, desires, ideas, motives, and actions. This ability to imagine oneself in another's place is increasingly important in today's school, college, professional and civic life.
According to institutional experts such as the Ashoka Institute (a Scandinavian organization) responsible for the Changemaker School .initiative, a program that is embraced worldwide -- teaching empathy gives teachers the power to transform schools and students the ability to change the world they live in for the better.
How can students benefit from learning empathy?
In a time characterized by connectivity and change, students who learn to forge and navigate relationships in the classroom will thrive in tomorrow's workroom and boardroom. Empathizing with others' feelings and perspectives is the foundation for good communication, teamwork, and strong leadership—no matter what career path they take or what jobs they undertake in the future.
How can schools benefit from promoting empathy related programs:
The use of empathy is an essential part of the American psychologist Carl Rogers's counseling technique.
Practicing empathy leads to the improved classroom and school management. When the students' counselor takes time to recognize students' backgrounds, they can discover a pathway connecting student interest to learning. The ACE program allows children to envision a value-based ambition pathway that connects directly to their needs or community needs. When teachers are cognitive of students' backgrounds, they become better equipped to deal with their students' social and emotional needs. Schools committed to empathetic teaching and practices enjoy improved teacher efficacy and retention because teachers are treated with the trust, resources, and understanding they deserve
The ACE can be conducted in various ways, either in an inclusive school program, extracurricular, or family program, with the school library's collaboration and PTA's family nights. The program can promote quality family time while learning about the cultures on the other side of the world. All the workshops are interactive. Parents and teachers are all invited to participate with enough roles to play. The program can promote quality family time too. We encourage teachers and parents to read a book about culture relative to the class's specific workshop. We also encourage sharing new songs from across the world. Crafts are typically included as a part of the workshops. However, children are encouraged to use their imaginations and make them relevant and suitable to their needs. Children are also encouraged to explore and ask questions about the interconnectedness between Europe, Africa, and Asia. Of course, the presentation workshop begins with the understanding of cultural identity.
· Understanding of cultural identity within the world and learning to embrace cultural diversity
· Empowerment the student with the understanding of the role of self upon which life assets can begin to develop
· Experiential constructive and creative activities
· Encouraging Commitment to Learn: by making learning fun
· Learning empathy and developing cultural harmony
· Developing a lifetime asset of social competencies and interpersonal skills
THE ACE WORKSHOPS: Three parts program/unit
The ACE (Cultural Exchange Programs) consists of three parts workshops:
1. Explore Africa
2. Discover Empathy
3. Embrace Harmony
These three workshops highlight and depict commonly held values, beliefs, and attitudes of African culture. AV Cultural Exchange Program (ACE) encourages cross-cultural learning, understanding, and cross-cultural-confidence development.
African Views ACE program is focused on children. The workshops are designed to elucidate how exposure and early learning about Africa's values and traditions complement the traditions and values of Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Australia. The program focuses on the positive aspect of cultural diversity, rapprochement of cultures, and fair representation of African values to children. The classes are interactive and geared toward understanding the productive role of cultural attributes, eliminating unnecessary or distasteful information, protecting the children's innocence, placing everyone somewhat in the multicultural society's inherent vibrant diversity, allowing children to embrace the world without bias.
The ACE classes take place simultaneously. Each class takes from 45 minutes to 1hour per class. Children are rotated from one workshop to the other until the whole experience is completed. The programs are as follows:
1. Exploring Africa and meet Africans of the same age or grades:
Presentation on African countries by regions with the relevance of culture and climate. The workshop includes connecting with children in Africa via Skype in the classroom. (Meet and greet and explore together) and discuss specific subjects of doing collaborative work. This program is scalable by age groups and grades.
2. Discovering Empathy: Teaching African arts and cultural crafts workshop: Making Ndebele dolls (Learning empathy)
3. Embracing Harmony: Experiencing African string instruments with complements to other string instruments other from cultures and societies. (Embracing harmony)