Students explore world cultures

Collaboration: A school project on global diversity brings third-graders and 10th-graders together in Ellicott City.


February 02, 2005|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Did you know that Turkish is the official language of Turkey? How about that Buddhism is the most popular religion in Thailand?

What about the fact that more than 80 percent of the population in El Salvador is Roman Catholic?

Answers to those questions and more were presented in a variety of lively formats during a World Cultures Celebration last week in Ellicott City.

The event, a "shared learning project" between Glenelg Country and Worthington Elementary schools, was held at Worthington. More than 200 students from the schools collaborated on a variety of projects, including puppet shows, speeches, multimedia presentations and musical tributes.

The purpose of the event was to have students gain an appreciation of 27 countries around the world. English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students from Long Reach High School served as consultants for the presentations.

"This program provides students with an opportunity to study and celebrate the diverse cultures of our world," said David Weeks, Glenelg Country's civic leadership program coordinator. "In so doing, students become more open and informed global citizens."

Three months before the event, Glenelg sophomores were mentors to third-graders from Worthington, coaching them on how to find information about the countries and deciding in what format to present it. The pupils who organized a puppet show about Turkey noted during their presentation that children who live in Turkey enjoy entertainment, including PlayStation 2, which elicited laughs from the audience of about 75 people in the school cafeteria.

Lauren McGlothlin and Ray Bowen, both Glenelg Country 10th-graders, said they were proud of the four pupils with whom they worked.

"They did really well," Lauren said. "We met every week, and we gave them homework and information to research."

Added Ray, "They were good."

Lauren said she and Ray thought the presentation would be better if the pupils did something they enjoyed.

"They immediately said they wanted to do a puppet show, so we all made the puppets and wrote the script," she said.

The pupils were elated after their presentation and eager to talk about their show.

"I like making the puppets [talk]," said Zackary Garrett, 8, beaming with pride.

Erin Dobyns, 9, said she "liked learning all the things about Turkey."

Christopher Strem, 8, added, "I learned that [people who live in] Turkey have a lot of stuff for breakfast - olives, bread, soup, rice and tea."

Zackary's parents, Justine and Shannon Garrett, said they were elated with their son's performance, especially because he had only a short time to learn the information.

"We were very impressed," said Shannon Garrett, explaining that his son recently transferred to Worthington.

The group of pupils who recited to the audience what they learned about England dressed as Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare and Tony Blair, the country's prime minister.

Wearing a long lace dress, Anne Warren pretended to be Queen Elizabeth, telling the audience about her royal role. Looking dapper as Shakespeare, Emily Jackson talked about the playwright's work.

And dressed in blue pants, shirt and a vest, Aaron Jacobson, gave his best impersonation of Blair.

Before leaving the stage, the pupils offered interesting tidbits, such as:

"You can always tell what time it is in London: Just look at Big Ben [the 320-foot clock tower]" and "in England, the weather is rainy and chilly."

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