Winner: Exploring Global Education Systems
Indonesian high school students participate in virtual exchange focused on international education systems

Virtual Exchange project peeks inside 6 countries' classrooms

The pandemic hastened a move toward more and more virtual interactions. But long before it was routine to Zoom in to work, PAX was hosting annual “virtual exchange” contests. By “virtual exchange,” we refer to educational activities that utilize some form of communication technology (video conferencing, group chat, etc.) for constructive interaction between teens who are geographically separated and/or from different cultural backgrounds. As you might have guessed, our most recent contest just wrapped up. And with that, we are pleased to present the winners of PAX’s sixth annual virtual exchange contest…

Indonesia-Washington Connection
For their project, a group of PAX/YES Indonesian students (all hosted in Washington State) chose to focus on the topic of global education systems. German, Indonesian, Japanese, Sierra Leonean, Thai, and American teens were invited to participate and tasked with collecting interesting photos pertaining to school, classrooms, teaching styles, the school day, uniforms, etc. in their country. The PAX students then organized a video call where the photos were presented in slides pieced together with the help of the international teens. During the video call, each teen presented their own country.

During the video conference, the PAX/YES Indonesians facilitated discussion. Why were these particular photos selected? What similarities and differences are there to other countries? Which images did students find most interesting? What potential conclusions might be drawn about secondary education across cultures?

Below, you can check out the presentation used during the video call—including the cross-cultural education photos—in addition to the PAX/YES Indonesians’ final project essay. Enjoy—we hope you learn as much as these teens did!

Winning Group of PAX/YES Students
Felicia (Heeter family)
Giancarlo (Quay family)
Givani (Pearson family)
Rulien (Allpress family)

Invited Teen Participants
Adi (Indonesia)
Alice (Thailand)
Georgette (Sierra Leone)
Lilly (Germany)
McKernan (U.S)
Yurika (Japan)


Click Image for Presentation

1A Georgette Slide

Scroll through the entire presentation used during the project's Zoom conference, including all the great school-related photos.


Students' Final Essay

The world is filled with love and peace; hence, diversity is part of the spotlight. The beauty of the world is created by its own people. Uniqueness from each race and ethnicity is blended together into a single unity: humanity.

Each person has their own way to acknowledge and be part of these differences. We, as exchange students, perceive this in quite a different way. This is not only the different customs we brought from our home country; we also notice the adversity when it comes to adjusting to the new system and curriculum in our host country. However, the pace of the adjustment is based upon the person themselves. Many students might find similarities in the educational system, but some might not.

We discussed it on an online platform and there are many things that piqued us to learn more about the differences. Indonesia, Sierra Leone, the United States, Thailand, Japan, and Germany all have their own school system. Through the project, we learned how interesting they all are.

Asian countries such as Indonesia (Adi), Thailand (Alice), and Japan (Yurika) share many similarities in terms of the school system. These include the usage of uniforms, as well as some additional rules regarding discipline and values. On the other hand, the United States (McKernan) upholds the flexibility of education by giving free choices for students to channel their interests based on their passion. Then, in Germany (Lilly), the most interesting part is that school is not tiered: middle schoolers and high schoolers are in the same building. In addition, Lilly mentioned that German schools are focusing more on academic education; thus, sport is not a big thing. Moreover in Sierra Leone (Georgette), public schools separate students based on gender (gender-isolated education), while in private schools, schools consist of boys and girls students (mixed-gender education). But overall, in Sierra Leone, they also have clubs that carry out activities which have an impact on the environment.

Pros and cons in the society pertaining to the educational system have provoked the question, “What is the best way to maximize students’ abilities and capabilities?” By sharing our stories with each other, we received pictures of how the educational system is in another country. Expanding our view will escalate our mind quality and erase negative stigmas, from the educational point of view. It all could start in a simple way, such as brainstorming ideas and opinions between students as we did. We truly believe that at the end of the day, pursuing the main goals of this project and of cultural exchange will make this world a better place to live in through instilling the values of understanding diversity.

Virtual Exchange Thanks Group