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Similarities Coming Together After “Things Fall Apart”

Faculty member Carrie Arcos and her English 12 classes Skyped with high school students in Zambia to gain their perspective on the novel Things Fall Apart.
Students of Carrie Arcos’ English 12 classes, who recently finished reading the novel Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, took to Skype to talk with high school students from Zambia. The novel tells the story of Okonkwo, a respected warrior of the Umuofia clan in Nigeria during the 1890s, whose world is abruptly shattered when his people are colonized by the British. Mrs. Arcos said, “My English 12 classes had just finished reading Things Fall Apart, and I thought it would be an interesting cultural exchange for my students to get a chance to speak with high school students their age in Africa.” Even though Things Fall Apart is set in Nigeria, which is a country in West Africa and Zambia is in southern Africa, Mrs. Arcos and her students were curious about their perspective of the novel and about their experiences as teenagers in Zambia. Senior Sussy Canjura said, “To Skype with students from Zambia was really exciting. After reading Things Fall Apart, we were able to discuss characters and listen to different perspectives. I really enjoyed getting to know the students and understand more about their culture and favorite hobbies. I was grateful for the opportunities I had and for the lovely experience of talking to students from a different part of the world.” Senior Bryan Agajanian also shared, “The Skype call was very intriguing as I got to see the ways of different cultures. This interaction gave me a better understanding of how different cultures adapt to each other.”

Mrs. Arcos, who has a personal connection to Zambia because her parents are the founders of Breath of Heaven, a children’s village and school that serves orphaned children and the surrounding communities in Lusaka, Zambia, continued to share, “I wanted the chance for students from both parts of the world to interact with each other because many times we don't understand just how similar we actually are. We noticed similarities in humor, the dislike of the main character in the novel, openness, love of music and stories, college goals, travel, and faith. I was so glad to offer the opportunity to my students and will hopefully get to do it again."