A world tour at peace camp

Understanding: Sessions at Towson University use music, food and programs to inform children and broaden their horizons about other countries.

July 05, 2002|By Ben Piven | Ben Piven,SUN STAFF

Given the heightened level of American involvement in international affairs during the past year, Towson University is offering children in the Baltimore area an opportunity to appreciate cultures from across the globe at Kids for Peace Camp.

The nine-week program for pupils in grades three through eight aims to foster greater understanding of global issues.

"Our children don't know enough about history, geography and culture," said Arlene Prince, assistant director of Kids for Peace. "The camp is helping to stop prejudice."

When they arrive, campers are given a "passport" from a country to be studied and an "alternate identity" with a name from that country. Sixty-three children have signed up.

The first session began June 24 and focused on North and Central America -- specifically, Mexico and Cuba. Two days later, a Baltimore band called Downtown Rhythm Express introduced campers to the Spanish melodies and African rhythms of Central America. Energetic campers braved the hot, humid weather to practice samba, tango, mambo and salsa steps.

"It's good music. I like the drums, and it's different from anything I have heard before. It's fun learning about Mexico because we get to have a fiesta," said Danny Iachan, 8, of Lutherville. He plans to attend weeks one, seven and eight.

Excursions to local restaurants and museums, combined with educational and musical programs on Towson's campus, are designed to give campers a range of cultural experiences.

Each of the nine weeks is designed to provide insight into aspects of a specific region, such as religion, food and dance. For example, week eight covers Asia, and the countries of China and Korea and features a trip to a Korean market, Chinese martial arts demonstrations and the telling of Asian folktales. Poverty, health care and war also will be discussed.

"It's going great because it's an opportunity for kids to learn about different languages and cultures," said Berthran Ugeh, 19, a counselor from Nigeria who attends Towson University.

All camp counselors have either studied in a foreign country, speak a foreign language or are international students.

A summary of the program's mission, the camp's T-shirt reads: "This summer, we saw the world from a new perspective -- ours." The declaration is surrounded by a ring of flags from around the world.

In coming years, Kids for Peace Camp will rotate the countries to be studied so that returning campers are able to learn about more nations.

Camp registration continues. The camp costs $195 per week. Registration information is available from Mary Hilton, Towson University's International Coordinator and the director of Kids for Peace Camp, at 410-704-6080, or by visiting the program's Web site, www.towson.edu

kidsforpeace.

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