Culture Camp Day One and Two
CULTUREALL’S Culture Camp happened July 9th – 12th at the Windsor Heights Community Center. Eleven kids met five different Cultural Ambassadors and four cultures: India, Middle East, Latin America and China. The four day camp was filled with stories, crafts, food and music.
Below are Erika Worley’s, a CULTUREALL intern, accounts of Culture Camp Days One and Two!
Chelsea, CULTUREALL’s program coordinator, started the “get to know you” session, asking the students to state their names, list one thing they would bring on a trip, and name the one country they really want to visit. Afterward, Cultural Ambassador Ritika Sinha introduced the students to Indian culture with stories, activities and a number of artifacts. The students were impressed to hear the official language of India, Hindi, spoken.
They giggled as they role-played the proper daily morning ritual of touching the feet of their parents and grandparents. Their eyes opened wide and they nearly jumped out of their seats when they learned that some Indians don’t use toothbrushes – instead, they use the twig off a tree to brush their teeth. Once they discovered that the sap from Neem trees not only whitens teeth, but also removes unwanted bacteria, they regained respect for Indian resourcefulness.
The students also learned what animals live in India, and why many Indians don’t eat beef, and what causes jet lag. They had fun with yoga and felt deep relaxation through visualization. They drew traditional Indian designs and crafted bracelets, called Rakhi, which is used to symbolize a sister’s love for her brother’s well being, and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her.
The day began quickly with everyone finding their friends and getting their nametags. Chelsea asked if they had had a good time with Ritika on Monday, and they replied with an enthusiastic YEAH! Then she introduced the day’s Cultural Ambassador, Kristie Burns, who would be teaching them about the Middle East. So that Krisite could get to know their names, they did an icebreaker in which they said their names and had to find different countries on a globe. The kids often hadn’t heard of the countries they had to find (with Chelsea’s help) – like Bataan and Gabon.
After that, Kristie told them about the books published in Arabic she had on display, and about Arabic calligraphy—it’s a beautiful artform in the Middle East. She even showed them the alphabet and how to write their own names in artistic ways. The kids really liked seeing the foreign money and photographs she had brought. In the late morning, the kids formed a drum circle and played a variety of tabla (drums) made out of recycled materials, then dressed in scarves and learned raqs baladi (traditional dance).
The kids set up a small marketplace where the kids bargained for clothing, Arabic puzzles, a ramadan lantern, miswak (toothbrush from a tree branch), camel milk, basmati rice, sesame candy and more. Each market vendor sold only one kind of item each: some sold food, others toys, and still others sold books. Kristie taught the right way to bargain and told stories about what happens when you don’t bargain the right way.
At “meal time” the students gathered around the “table” — a traditional cloth laid out on the floor to eat on. They heard Kristie’s stories about proper manners for eating, and how each and every guest who comes to your home must be offered food or drink, and that all food must be served on trays because everyone eats from the same bowls. The kids became very strict with each other about staying off the “table.” After working together to prepare and serve the meal, they sat together and shared rusk (a kind of cracker), hibiscus tea, dates and cookies. The end of the day came and they wrote letters for Kristie, added decorations to their carry-home bags, and played games.
Check back for our descriptions of Days three and four of Culture Camp!