CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Jan. 20, 2010 – A team of Southeast Missouri State University faculty and staff volunteers conducted an international multicultural fair Jan. 14 for the students of Barbara Blanchard Elementary School in Cape Girardeau.
The project was designed to provide a rich diversity of primary social science inquiry resources for elementary students through hands-on participation and joy in learning. Every activity encouraged personal engagement and interactive discussion with experienced adult representatives of multiple world cultures.
This event was conceived and coordinated by David Powell, assistant professor of middle and secondary education, in close partnership with Dr. Simin Cwick and Dr. Tahsin Khalid at Southeast and with Barbara Kohlfeld and Kristi Brunts at Blanchard.
The entire student body in grades K-4 participated in grade-level groups for 35 minutes per grade. Each grade entered the gym dancing and promenading in a Brazilian Carnaval parade led by Powell and then split into groups to participate in three of six educational activities conducted by representatives of featured international cultures. The activities were Russian folktales (Svetlana Kuzmina, Ukrainian Fulbright scholar in residence), Farsi writing (Simin Cwick, a professor and native of Iran), African dress and dancing (Seidu Sofo, associate professor and native of Ghana), Mexican tortilla-making (Armando Gordillo, a native of Mexico, and Leah Gordillo, administrative assistant), Ukrainian pysanki egg decoration (Barbara Duncan, retired faculty and a native of the United States) and Pakistani sports and language (Tahsin Khalid, associate professor, and Paghma Khalid, his wife, both natives of Pakistan). Sue Ann Powell, a regular volunteer and substitute teacher at Blanchard, also assisted with event setup and student management during transitions between classes and activities.
“It is wonderful for [the students] to know there is a big world out there with people who have rich cultures,” said Blanchard Principal Barbara Kohlfeld.
Direct personal contact with these diverse cultures is essential to promote awareness of and appreciation for cultural diversity as well as an attitude of compassion and understanding for persons and ideas that are different.
This program was aligned with the Missouri Standards for Teacher Education Programs. The presentations and activities was designed to meet many grade level expectations as outlined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, especially in social studies and communication arts. This event also provided a valuable opportunity for community outreach and structured K-12 interaction for international faculty and students in alignment with Southeast’s International Strategic Planning Initiative.