Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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Students Share Lessons Learned in Ecuador at Global Conference

By IMSA Spanish Faculty Member José Palos

Four IMSA students were the only students from the United States to make presentations in Spanish alongside global scholars at the International Conference on Intercultural Philosophy held in Costa Rica.

Students and educators from more than 20 countries reflected on the theme of Living Together:  Problems and Possibilities in Today’s World.  

IMSA students Ashley Chong, Ethan Jacobs, Pujan Patel and Jessica Ventenilla all agreed that the experience was unforgettable.

(l-to-r) IMSA students Prujan Patel, Jessica Ventenilla and Ashley Chong, along with one of the conference organizers takes time for a photo following their presentation.

“The conference broadened our knowledge about the effectiveness of international relations and how teenagers like us can be part of this environment and offer opinions that help shape the future in an intercultural and ethical way,” said Ventenilla.  “It was incredible to have conversations with people from countries such as Panama and India and talk about the diversity here at IMSA,” she added.

During the conference, IMSA students made 20-minute presentations in Spanish about IMSA’s annual summer service projects in Ecuador and then led a question-and-answer session following their presentations.  

“The congress participants were very intrigued by IMSA, quite taken by our students' maturity and intelligence, curious about how IMSA's education and our trip to Ecuador have furthered the students' global way of thinking, and very appreciative that we shared our ideas at the conference,” said IMSA Spanish Faculty Member José Palos.

IMSA parent Rajni Patel said the opportunity for students to be immersed in an international conference such as this is invaluable.

“We are very proud that IMSA Spanish teachers travel with students to different Spanish-speaking countries,” Patel said. “This brings not only a lifelong learning experience of a different culture and traditions but also an appreciation of service projects students conduct while living with people that they never met before,”  he added.

In addition to learning about living together in various societies from scholars from Austria, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Germany, Korea and Mexico, students also left with new-found friends and conference participants who plan to continue their cross-cultural relationship into the future.

Palos said IMSA Spanish language students received an unparalleled real-life educational experience that will serve them well in the future.

“As far as the Spanish language goes, this was as full immersion as it gets!  Everyone spoke, heard and ‘saw’ so much Spanish in the course of this one week!”  

“It was an honor to share how IMSA and the Spanish program help us to think globally and ethically with an international audience,” Chong said.