Thursday, December 19, 2013

Multicultural Week

This has been such a wonderful week at my school. It is multicultural week, where families come in to every classroom and share their cultural traditions (not just Christmas or Hanukkah). The week was kicked off with a wonderful Bollywood dance by a few of the moms, as well as the Fifth Graders sharing a song they wrote. Being in the area of Los Angeles we are, our school is so incredibly diverse. In my second grade alone, there are 20 different cultures represented- Israel, Palestine, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Egypt, Canada, Honduras, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, Latvia, Iran, Brazil, Philippines, Laos and Lebanon.

Personal challah breads made by each student

In each class each day, parents came in and shared stories, games, toys, activities and traditions. The week was so crazy busy and I was running around between three different classes, not to mention that the kids are in a permanent holiday-hyper mode, and I didn't get to take as many pictures as I wanted, but I got a few! There was sushi making, challah making, a game guessing the differences between Canada and the US, a presentation on Dubai complete with each child's name written in arabic, Chinese Calligraphy, tracing and decorating maps of Italy, decorating and playing dreidals, a virtual filed trip through Brazil, henna tattoos, learning how to say Happy New Year in Vietnamese, the tradition of Rosca de Reyes Cake (King Ring- a plastic baby Jesus is baked into a cake) from Mexico, and so much more, I can't even remember it all!!

Each class also had a feast, where each child brought in a food they enjoy in their family. It could be from a cultural tradition, like the delicious bulgogi that one student brought in, or just something they love to eat together, like the 5 pound meatloaf someone else brought in. Each child brought their item forward and shared why their brought it in. Kids who didn't bring anything in got to share what they would have brought and why. Parents were there too and it was a great end of semester celebration.

In my second grade, we are doing a family tree project that goes along well with multicultural week. The students watercolored a tree and created leaves for each family member back to their grandparents. They worked with their families to find out the name, birthplace and year they were born. When we get back in January, we will continue the family unit and use these family trees to look at maps and trace their families' journey to America.

I loved seeing each child get so excited to share their culture, and how attentive and excited the rest of the class was when they were sharing. I learned so much about different cultures too! I was just blown away by the diversity in the classroom, and how into the activities everyone got. I may have mentioned this before, but exposure to different cultures and celebrating diversity is something I feel very strongly about, and want to make a part of my classroom. In other areas I have lived, we didn't have that much cultural diversity in the classroom, so it was harder to embrace and teach. Here, it is so prevalent that something like this multicultural week organically becomes a rich and rewarding celebration of diversity, and I am so happy to have been a part of it!

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