International Day at Perry County Middle School

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Dr. Simin Cwick shows Jenna LaRose (left) and Daria Thompson how to write their names in Farsi script. (Photo by Perry County School Dist. No. 32)

The 7th grade students at Perry County Middle School were given a taste of life in other countries and they didn't even leave the classroom! The event was planned and organized by Dr. David Powell, a Professor at Southeast Missouri State University. He, along with five other SEMO Professors, presented the multi-cultural event by sharing information about Africa, Iran, Pakistan, and the Ukraine.

"The professors from Southeast Missouri State University gave our students a day they will long remember," said Karen Bahr, 7th Grade Science Teacher. "They set up various displays, wore clothing native to their country and presented cultural hands-on activities for the students to participate in. The students also kept journals during the day to capture their thoughts about the things they learned, what they found the most interesting, ways the culture of the other country was similar to their own and ways the culture was different from their own."

Dr. Powell split his time between showing the students how to do origami and teaching them about different breads from around the world. "Dr. Powell brought various types of flour that are common in other countries and about 20 different types of bread," said Bahr. "The students had an opportunity to taste these and experience the differences and similarities." Kaylin Hedge said, "I learned that the type of bread grain depends on the place it comes from and what they can grow." Lacey Wheat found there were certain breads and flours that she liked better than others. "I learned that the cornbread, rye and bagel are my favorite breads," said Lacey, "but the buck wheat flour does not taste very good in my opinion."

Dr. Powell also showed the students how to make an origami box. "He gave each student an 8 x 8 sheet of paper and showed them how to fold it into a collapsible box," said Candy Mueller, 7th Grade Math Teacher. "He talked about angles, symmetry and surface area versus volume. He also brought in other origami shapes that someone from Japan had made. They included boats, hats, a penguin, a barking dog, a sleeping dog, dragons, frogs, hearts, moveable message origami used to honor someone or something of importance and many, many more. It was very interesting seeing all the different shapes."

Guest Professor, Dr. Seidu Sofo, showed the students how to do an African dance and how to play a popular African game called Yan Koloba. "The game is not really for competition but it is a lesson on trust and concentration," said Pat Martin, 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher. Dr. Sofo also shared information about his country, the Republic of Ghana. "This is different from my culture," said Lacey Wheat, "because it never gets below the temperature of 69F."

Dr. Tahsin Khalid and Mrs. Naghma Khalid shared many interesting facts about Pakistan with the students. Dr. Khalid taught them how to play cricket and Mrs. Khalid taught them some of the Urdu language and showed how they do henna body art. Daria Thompson found the Pakistan culture very interesting. "I learned that they read and write right to left and their language is Urdu. The most interesting thing I learned was that cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan."

Guest Professor, Mrs. Svetlana Kuzmina, from Ukraine, told Russian folktales and had a display of many Russian objects, including a Russian tea set and Matreshka or nesting dolls. Many of the students saw similarities between the relationship Mrs. Kuzmina expressed she had with her family in the Ukraine and the customs here in the United States. "This is similar to my own country," said Rosa-Lia Torres, "because when you visit your grandma there is normally cookies and tea, then story time afterwards. And we watch movies and do fun stuff with our grandma as a younger child." Lacey Wheat enjoyed the fairy tale, The Red Flower, because it reminder her of the story The Beauty and the Beast. "I learned (from the story) to never break a promise. To be modest and kind to other people."

SEMO Professor, Dr. Simin Cwick, presented information about the similarities and differences in growing up in Iran. She also shared some of the language, the alphabet and wrote the students' names in Farsi script. Many of the students found the Iranian culture quite different than their own. "Something different from our culture," said Kaylin Hedge, "is that their schools are not co-ed, they are all single gender. Also dating is not allowed. If you talk to a boy, you HAVE to get married to him."

"We were very pleased that we were chosen to have this International Day for our students," said Karen Bahr. "Dr. Powell and the other SEMO faculty members made a lasting impression on our students and gave them important insight into the customs and lifestyles of people in other parts of the world."

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