Learning 3 Jun 2020

Exploring empathy with author David Jiménez

By CIS Communications
Photograph by Amelia Sevilla

The beauty of technology is that even if someone is halfway across the world, we can connect and learn from them! Ms Amelia Sevilla’s secondary Spanish class did exactly when they met celebrated Spanish journalist/author David Jiménez online. We chat with Amelia to find out more. 

How did the video conference with David Jiménez come about? 
David Jiménez is a Spanish journalist and the author of Hijos del monzón ("Children of the Monsoon"), which won the award for the best Spanish travel book. As my class read his book, they were noting the book's most memorable events and anecdotes on sticky notes. We connected with David via Twitter to tell him how much we were enjoying his book in Singapore. We also asked if we could chat with him online. 

How did it tie in with your lesson?
Students were studying the unit "An ideal world?", a unit where we discuss social justice issues, living in a community and social inequalities. I included David Jiménez’s book in the unit as the stories are based in Southeast Asia, and were ones students could relate to from their travels and experiences in the region. 

Basically, the book is a collection of stories about children David met. They are all located in Southeast Asia and all the children lived in deprived areas. 

Through these stories, we are able to understand the different histories and societies of the countries he worked in. Every chapter revolves around a different country or child. It is relevant and really interesting for everyone living in this part of the world.

What did your students feel about it and how did they participate?
They prepared some questions about what surprised them most to discuss with the author.

Student Saki N: The video conference with David Jiménez was very inspirational and interesting, as it allowed us to gain further insight into the book. Not only the book itself but additionally this video conference made me realise the reality people live in in which I have gained empathy towards. Living in Singapore, we aren’t exposed to what poverty and extreme conditions may look like, however, the author highlighted what everyday life is like for some children. 

The importance of being open-minded and mindful towards people that aren’t spoken about in society stuck with me as the author thoroughly discussed this by explaining the different experiences he encountered in Asia. This was a great experience as the book itself was very impactful and being able to speak directly and ask the author some questions allowed it to be very valuable and memorable. 

Student Adrian J: My experience with David Jiménez was enriching and interesting as his travelling experience allowed him to talk in a knowledgeable and clear way that made me look at travelling and other countries, as well as its people, in a different way. All my questions were answered and I am glad to say that I learned a lot from this experience. 

How has virtual learning transformed your lessons? 
Students are now used to remote learning and Google Meets so it felt very natural to connect with the author as part of their lesson. Indeed, nothing beats the experience of being able to speak directly with the author of the book you are reading in class.