Poland students find common ground with kids in India

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In a Skype session with students from India on Tuesday, Poland Middle School eighth-graders learned some ways the two groups of students are different.

Students in Poland are accustomed to snow days; the students in India had not seen snow in person.

Poland students tend to have friend groups based on the activities in which they participate, whereas the Indian students see themselves as one big family.

The students in India speak multiple languages, while PMS students, for the most part, speak only English.

Despite these differences, students ended the Skype session feeling like they have a lot in common.

“The most interesting thing, I feel, is we all have similar like-mindedness, even though we live on different sides of the world,” said PMS student Noah Dearing. “I feel as though even though we’re different, we’re much more alike than we are different.”

The Skype session was hosted by Ravi Hutheesing, a former guitarist for the band Hanson who works as a public speaker and cultural diplomat. His initiative “Ravi Unites” educates audiences about cultural competency in a globalized world.

“What I hope you discover is you all have a lot in common,” Hutheesing said, introducing Poland students to ninth-grade students at a boarding school in a rural part of southern India.

Students went back and forth with questions, asking each other about the weather in their respective home countries, their interests, and favorite music.

The students found they shared many of the same interests, such as playing sports, dancing, and the music of artists such as Kendrick Lamar.

The groups also delved a little deeper, talking about the ways they want to change the world.

One girl in India, for example, said she would like to change her country’s caste system. Some Poland students felt as though Americans have more equal opportunities, but others referred to the divisions in the U.S. class system.

PMS students said they enjoyed the Skype session.

“It was a really great experience to see how we interacted with each other and to see what our similarities were,” said Lauren Barrett.

The event was part of the school district’s “Capture Kindness Month.”

The month began with “Start With Hello,” an initiative started by families who lost children in the Sandy Hook school shooting. The program works to address social isolation in schools.

This year, Capture Kindness Month’s theme was “Kindness Starts With One,” and focused on the ways individuals can have a positive impact if they choose to be kind.

“It’s all about reaching out and making connections with other cultures and other people,” PMS guidance counselor Mary Jo Rowan said.

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