What do we exchange in virtual exchange? Reflections on virtual exchange as intercultural dialogue
Virtual exchange in the Asia-Pacific: research and practice
On its website, APVEA reminds us that "virtual exchanges are technology-enabled, sustained, people-to-people education programs". This chapter addresses the question of what we exchange when we engage in virtual exchange by exploring the meaning and value of virtual exchange as intercultural dialogue, and by considering the impact of the technological medium on the process. A small group of expert practitioners (N=6) were consulted for their views on virtual exchange. Their responses sketch a
... cture in which virtual exchange stretches beyond transaction into interaction among and transformation of the participants. The expert practitioners value virtual exchange for enhancing employability and foremost for its dialogic qualities. Next, the chapter explores the meaning of dialogue more deeply from a Bohmian perspective and considers applications in organizational development (Isaacs, 1999), restorative justice (Pranis, 2005), and intercultural competence development (Deardorff, 2020). When the intercultural dimension is made salient, this creates additional chances for realizing the dialogue principles of participation, coherence, awareness, and unfolding. The chapter then illustrates how intercultural dialogue is reshaped in a virtual environment as it is mediated by the technological context in which it is conducted. Specific attention is paid to the circle, the talking piece, and the facilitator. The chapter concludes by stating that, although intercultural dialogue will always be mediated by technology in virtual exchange settings, it makes good sense to speak of 'virtual dialogue' in situations that take the core principles, practices, and structural components of dialogue as outlined in this chapter as a starting point for designing online intercultural dialogue activities.