Goshen students learn about cultural diversity

Published 10:50 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

If Goshen were Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, the word for Wednesday would have been “culture.”

The fifth-grade students at Goshen Elementary School shared what they have learned about the different cultures of countries around the world with other students through the senses of sight, hearing and, best of all, taste.

“The idea behind the Pike County Indian Education Cultural Diversity project was to teach all of our students about the cultural differences that make up our world,” said Brandi DeSandro, who coordinated the project. “By participating in the Cultural Diversity project, the students were made more aware that everyone is not the same and we should respect and appreciate the differences.”

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DeSandro said the students were divided into groups representing different countries.

“They read books about their countries, watched videos and did research on the history of the country, native costumes, important people and places, major crops and other interesting facts,” she said. “Then, they were asked to decide on a food that was particular to their counties and that they could share with other students during their presentations.”

The challenge for the students was to find foods that would be available in local grocery markets. Whale meat, for example, would not be something the Japanese group could serve.

At least one student in each group, dressed in a costume native to that country.

The group from France welcomed visitors with “bonjour” and served grapes and cheese as they told about the country’s most prevalent livestock, cows and sheep; the popular tourist attraction, the Eiffel Tower; and the Tour de France bicycle race.

Women in an African country, with a name as hard to pronounce as it is to spell, Djibouti, wear clothing so colorful that it looks as if they “pulled a rainbow out of the sky and put it on a dress,” members of the group said.

Spanish dancers welcomed visitors with “hola” and served sliced cucumbers and showed a video of popular Spanish dancer, Melody.

The group from Australia told of the land of 10,000 fishponds. Australia, the group spokesman said, is the largest exporter of wool and produces three million pounds of meat a day.

Jacob Motes demonstrated how Mexicans grind corn meal on a rock and Bayli Register demonstrated an Egyptian dance. Ian Tuck sang the praises of delicious Irish tea bread and Trevor Barron told stories of Canadian trappers who traded furs to the Native Americans for things they needed or wanted and of why hockey is the country’s national sport.

And the United States was well represented with baseballs, apples for pies and John Deere tractors.

Understanding the differences among people of the world’s many cultures should help the students appreciate the differences among the students at Goshen Elementary School.

“Hopefully, learning to accept differences in people will help eliminate bullying among students,” DeSandro said. “That is a goal of the Cultural Diversity project.”