During the Fall 2017 semester, John Abbott College started a project with Tecnologico de Monterrey College in Chihuahua, Mexico. The two teachers conducting this project were Remi Cardinal and Leticia Lozano Ramirez. The students from these international business classes had to work together to deliver a project on NAFTA. The first task was to write a short paragraph about themselves including a picture, their interests, and what they love about their country on a dedicated Facebook page.
When students shared their interests, they commented amicably on each other’s posts which lead to teams of like-minded individuals being formed. The teams consisted of two Canadian students and one Mexican student. They needed to comment on at least three different posts where they each had things in common. Once the students had their teams, they needed to get together and hold three Skype sessions, one per week, where they would discuss the project. They also needed to show evidence of the Skype meeting by posting a picture on the Facebook group with a detailed paragraph. The final step of the project was to discuss the current situation of NAFTA, while considering the positions of each member country’s leader, and therefore the possible changes, including possible consequences. Students needed to have at least 10 arguments backing up their positions, supported by three solid sources. In conclusion, students were required to state their positions on NAFTA and make a proposal on what to do about it’s future by looking at the three countries involved.
During the first week of team building, students had no problem finding partners. The procedure was straight forward, and students had no difficulty commenting on other people’s posts on Facebook. Despite the language barrier, making friends was practically effortless. The active engagement of students really helped improve the teambuilding process, and we really formed close bonds with our team members.
One of the biggest problems we encountered was that we did not realize the disproportionate amount of students. We were not aware of the fact that Canadian students in the project outnumbered the Mexican students, such that it was very difficult to coordinate and find remaining people for the groups.
Overall, the Skype sessions went well, and students understood the concepts; however, a lot of them did not do the sessions on time. Many of them spoke about NAFTA while exchanging their opinions during some Skype sessions. During other sessions, they talked about their arrangement for the project and how they were going to split up the tasks concerning the video and project that had to be handed out. A big subject that also came up is the recent earthquake Mexicans went through. We are sending all our prayers to the affected families of students in Chihuahua.
The project has been very effective bringing the students from different backgrounds together, helping us better relate to each other considering our cultural differences. This project is a perfect example of how communication is key in any project.
Jasmine Gibara, Daphnee Arson, Arlette Beriault
Originally Published in Vol. 47 Issue 4 on October 25th, 2017