In the fourth grade I had a pen pal who lived in Colombia; we would exchange letters once every few weeks and would discuss school, sports, etc. Thanks to technology, the pen pal experience has changed and thanks to COIL, I had to opportunity to instantly meet face to face with someone in a different country. Some say that technology and social media is creating a gap in how people communicate, people would rather look at their phones than speak to the people around them, but this is an example of how technology has brought people together in ways that could not be accomplished a decade ago.
During my COIL interactions, I spoke with two students studying language in Cali, Colombia. Through these talks, I was able to gain further understanding of perspectives from different parts of the world. During my discussions with Daniela, we talked about different folklore and customs in Colombia and the United States. I learned about traditions such as covering a child in flour and eggs on their birthday. We discovered shared traditions, such as putting up a nativity and gathering at neighbor’s houses for songs during Christmas. We also discussed school and University systems in Colombia, a topic I knew little about. During my discussions with Angela, my second partner, we talked about Yipao, a parade where Jeep owners decorate their Jeeps with amazing displays, often involving agricultural products, and perform tricks. Being able to meet face to face, despite being thousands of miles away, made the conversations seem so much more personal and engaging. It is a great experience that benefits everyone involved.