Thursday, March 23, 2006
International students educate children about cultures
|Sharhar BenDoor spins dreidels with students at Harvey Swason Elementary School. |
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Shahar BenDoor sat on the floor spinning a dreidel with a classroom full of eager elementary school students trying to mimic his actions.
“I have years of practice,” he told the children who were spinning for candy coins. An MBA student from Israel, BenDoor was trying to help the students understand his heritage. He was one of 11 international students from Oakland University who visited Harvey Swanson Elementary School in Ortonville for the school’s Festival Internationale Feb. 24 to help educate the young students about different cultures.
The entire school took an educational journey around the world. Students had passports and were able to choose countries they wanted to learn more about. They received a sticker in their passport for each country they “visited,” while the OU students played a part in helping the younger students on their journey.
The visit to Harvey Swanson Elementary was the first in a series called Learn About Me, in which OU’s international students go into the community to teach children of all ages about their cultures.
“I remember when I was young, someone came into my school to teach me about other cultures,” BenDoor said. “I wanted to do the same and try to help these students learn about Israel.”
Sophia Molina, an exchange student from Mexico, took the children she met on a mini-voyage to Mexico. She spoke Spanish to them and told them about Spanish games and food.
|Lan Zhang helps students use chopsticks. |
“I like to talk to people about Mexico,” she said. “Everyone has an idea what Mexico is like, but you really don’t get to learn about a country until you go there.”
The OU students represented China, Japan, Israel, India and Mexico. They used games, pictures, clothing, activities, toys, food and videos to illustrate that life is different in other countries.
“We wanted to educate the kids about our culture,” said Anupama Gavirneni, a computer science graduate student and one of four students representing India. “We are teaching them about geography, neighboring countries and schools.”
Ayumi Yamashiro, an exchange student from Japan, along with her partners Ai Yumbia and Miyako Usami, taught the children origami and calligraphy.
“I wanted them to know more about Japan,” Yamashiro said. “I like children and I wanted to come here and meet some of them and interact with them.”
The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) is looking for volunteers to participate in Learn About Me. ISSO will provide transportation to the locations, food and other materials if needed to help students bring their culture to life for the children.
For more information about Learn About Me, contact Petra Knoche, assistant director of the ISSO, at (248) 370-3358 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the ISSO, visit the International Students and Scholars Office Web site or call (248) 370-3358.