International Classroom Journey

Come Along for the Journey!

The International Classroom Journey (ICJ) matches elementary and secondary classes with volunteer cultural ambassadors. The volunteers are primarily UI international students and scholars and UI study abroad returnees. These volunteers are trained to give interactive presentations that put a personal face on the complex world surrounding students. In some cases, both an international student and a U.S. student can present as a team, offering two unique cultural perspectives.

What makes the ICJ presenters unique?

  • International students and scholars give first hand accounts of daily life, traditions, and customs in his or her own culture.
  • U.S. students may be able to identify areas of cultural complexity that may be challenging for Iowa school children to understand and assist in explaining from the perspective of an American who has adjusted to life in another culture.
  • Presenters may inspire K-12 students later in life to live or study in another country.
  • Presenters receive support and cross-cultural communication training.
  • Presenters are encouraged to use visuals and interactive approaches in teaching.

Who are the participants?

  • Most international speakers are University of Iowa students and scholars.  International residents of the community may also participate. 
  • U.S. speakers are study abroad returnees, foreign language students, residents of the International Crossroad Community (a living and learning community in Mayflower Residence Hall), and U.S. students who have spent time abroad will conduct the presentations.

What are the benefits for students, teachers, and presenters?

Classroom students:

  • Receive firsthand information about other countries and regions of the world.
  • Develop positive attitudes toward people of other national backgrounds and cultures.
  • Learn multiple perspectives.
  • Think about their individual connection to the rest of the world.
  • Discover similarities and differences among diverse cultures.
  • Think more deeply about their own culture.
  • Begin to consider the possibility of living, studying, or working abroad.

Teachers:

  • Enliven units in geography, history, literature, social sciences, art or any other class.
  • Introduce students to a variety of foreign languages, especially languages not commonly taught in schools.
  • Learn from and meet speakers with international interests.
  • Motivate students to learn more about other countries and cultures.
  • Affirm the value of difference.
  • Emphasize similarities between cultures.

Speakers:

  • Share cultural knowledge and international experiences.
  • Observe and discuss aspects of U.S. culture with Iowa students.
  • Instill pride and confidence in students from cultures other than the U.S. majority culture.
  • Become more involved in their community.
  • Have an opportunity to polish presentation skills.
  • Meet new friends with similar interests.
  • Build resumes.
  • Participate in fun training sessions with free food.

Please note that the opinions and views expressed in ICJ presentations are solely those of the presenters and do not reflect or represent the views of International Programs or the University of Iowa.

Classroom Visit Request Form

Volunteer Classroom Presenter Form