Students at Brody Middle School in Des Moines had the opportunity to deepen their understanding of global cultures this spring during the final session of their afterschool program. Instead of a single CultureALL workshop – which during the school day typically lasts 45-60 minutes – students had 90-minutes on six consecutive Wednesdays to experience the cuisine, games, and traditions of several different cultures. Working in small groups of 12 or fewer, students were able to have more individualized attention and time to ask questions of the CultureALL Ambassadors leading the workshops. Ten CultureALL Ambassadors representing nine different cultures provided workshops during the program, which is funded by a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant awarded to the Des Moines Public Schools.
Students rotated through three sessions, spending two weeks on each of three aspect of culture: Cooking & Cuisine, Games & Recreation, and Traditions, Rituals, & Celebrations. For example, they made Hamantashen with Jewish CultureALL Ambassador Abe Goldstein and samosas with Sonal Minstry, one of CultureALL’s Ambassadors from India. With Ambassador Reid Miller, they played Peavers – the Scottish version of hopscotch – as well as games with other Ambassadors from Mexico, Kenya, and Norway. Students made their own piñatas and Diwali lanterns, they learned the dance of the First Born Child in Kenya, they practiced the Indian sand art of Rangoli, and they exercised their eyes like Chinese schoolchildren.
“CultureAll’s involvement freshened up the spring and made the after school program at Brody a positive experience for all the kids.”
Judy Pauley, coordinator of the program, said the students had great things to say about all of the experiences and were sad to see the sessions end. “The CultureAll program is outstanding,” she told us. “The teachers [CultureALL Ambassadors] that they provide are of very high quality both in engagement of students and professionalism. The [CultureALL] staff was very flexible and willing to try organizing the experiences in order to meet the needs of middle schoolers. Our Wednesday program is long and CultureAll’s involvement freshened up the spring and made the after school program at Brody a positive experience for all the kids.”
Program in Danger
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program has been in the news recently, as it is one of the programs that is up for elimination in the new federal budget. Many after school and summer school programs around the state are funded by 21st Century grants. These grants provide:
- Academic assistance and tutoring that help keep kids from falling behind in school and stop the summer “brain drain”
- Special programming to help English Language Learners sharpen their communications skills
- Activities that keep kids engaged and off the streets while their parents are at work
- Recreation activities, STEM skills, fine arts programs, and cultural enrichment programs – including programs provided by CultureALL.
If you care about the education of America’s children, please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to support continued funding for the 21st Century Learning Centers grant program.
Top Photo: CultureALL Ambassador Phoebe Liang D’Alessandro demonstrates the correct technique for rolling the pouches for Chinese dumplings. She tells them that the closed pouch resembles old Chinese money and to make it beautiful.