Internationalization of K-12 Schooling through Virtual Exchange: Opportunities in a Fractured Context


  • Nicole Hinshaw The George Washington University
  • Stephanie Gonzalez The George Washington University
  • Laura Engel The George Washington University



virtual exchange, COVID-19 pandemic, qualitative research, K-12 education


This study considers the opportunities and barriers facing the implementation of virtual exchange in K-12 education, and the perceptions of access to these opportunities for underrepresented students, in the context of the federal US education system. These questions are examined through the lens of a domestic program offered by Empatico known as Empathy Across the US.  Our findings point to several of the known barriers in the facilitation of virtual exchange, including technology access and pressing demands facing teachers, both of which impact accessibility. This study offers insights into how teachers in different settings perceive and experience the implementation of a domestic model of virtual exchange. As K-12 virtual exchange programs often rely on the willingness of teachers to implement these kinds of programs outside of the official school curriculum, our research indicated the importance of system-wide investment and structural support for domestic virtual exchange beyond individual champions.

Author Biographies

Nicole Hinshaw, The George Washington University

NICOLE HINSHAW is a recent graduate of the M.A. in Global Communication program at the George Washington University. Her interests lie within public diplomacy and international education, the domestic dimension of public diplomacy, and peacebuilding through international exchange. Email:

Stephanie Gonzalez, The George Washington University

STEPHANIE GONZALEZ is a PhD student in the Education & Inequality Program at the George Washington University. Her research considers how the admission and financial aid processes impact the wellbeing of Latina/o/x students. Email:

Laura Engel, The George Washington University

LAURA ENGEL, PhD, is an Associate Professor of International Education and International Affairs at the George Washington University. Her interests focus on global education policy trends in national and sub-national contexts, policy sociology, and inequalities in global learning. Email:


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How to Cite

Hinshaw, N., Gonzalez, S., & Engel, L. (2022). Internationalization of K-12 Schooling through Virtual Exchange: Opportunities in a Fractured Context. Journal of International Students, 12(S3), 1–16.