Culture Camp Day Three and Four
Our continued account of Day 3 and 4 of Culture Camp. 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.
Chelsea, CULTUREALL’S Americorps Vista member, laid out eleven pairs of shoes for the day’s icebreaker and the kids just couldn’t leave them alone–especially the sparkly gold heels. She told them to pick a pair of shoes and tell the group where they would go in those shoes, along with what else they would bring on a trip to continue the game from the previous two days. The Cultural Ambassadors then introduced themselves as Ms. Stein and Mr. East, greeting the kids in Spanish and showing them where Latin America is on a map.
Ms. Stein and Mr. East showed them many kinds of instruments, some of them originally from Latin America and others influenced by Europeans and Africans. There were three kinds of instruments (wind, percussion, and string), including the bombo (drum), the chaj’cha (goat-hoof shakers), the cuatro (4-stringed guitar), the guitarra (guitar), the charango (small, 10-stringed guitar), the guitarron (huge bass guitar), and various sizes of panpipe (from tiny toddler pipes to long grandfather pipes). The kids were very surprised to see how big panpipes could be. Ms. Stein and Mr. East played many songs for the kids throughout the day, starting with some traditional Latin American songs, and later singing ones with overseas influence, like Latin American cowboy songs and songs in two languages. The kids would sometimes clap, dance, or play along.
They learned that there are over 400 languages spoken in Latin America and that it’s a very diverse place. The kids were led through some call and response songs where they could sing parts back to Ms. Stein and played maracas and panpipes, making their own tiny pipes out of straws.
Mr. East taught them about polyrhythms, when many beats and melodies work together to make music. They talked about the Rocky Mountains that extend into Latin America and become the Andes Mountains. They presented many strange instruments, some of which were very plain and others that left the kids puzzling, such as the vibraslap made from a donkey’s jaw. The kids learned a song and were completely absorbed by the work of playing the wind instruments. Ms. Stein and Mr. East finished up with some question and answer time.
Chelsea played a game with the kids in which they were each given the name of a country and had to match it with the name of a city placed on the floor. The students had not heard of most of the countries or cities. Next, they played one last round of the week’s game where they told the group what they would bring on a trip.
Cultural Ambassador Eddie Tsang called the kids together, and using English characters, wrote his name on the board. He asked the students if that’s how he spells his name in Chinese, and the kids guessed correctly: “No.” He explained that he would spell it using one of the 300 styles of calligraphy. Then, demonstrating three of the styles (Classic, Modern, and Running Hand) he illustrated how to write sun, moon, mountain, water, tree and many other words. He also taught them how to write and say numbers in Mandarin, one of the many dialects of Chinese, and how to say “hello,” “very well,” and “thank you.” After that, Eddie told them how important tones are in Chinese. If you said his name the wrong way, the way Americans say it, you would call him a “stinky fish.” If you say ma in Chinese you could be saying “mom,” “grandma,” “horse,” or “argument.” They found him very funny.
The kids were amazed to learn that a child in China could, on average, get thousands of dollars from family members on New Year’s Day. Eddie then pulled out his ink and brush and wrote all the kids’ names in their favorite calligraphy style, along with the word for their favorite animal. When lunch came, the kids didn’t want to go outside! They were having too much fun. After lunch, Eddie taught them to fold paper boats and how to play Mahjong.
The kids were given Chinese candies, one of which is humorously nicknamed Birth Control Candy. He explained: Because China had a population crisis, the government wanted to stop people from having so many children, so they put birth control medicine into a popular kind of candy called Big White Rabbit. This, however, did not work and was stopped after two years. The kids didn’t all understand what this meant, but they thought it was funny anyway.
The last thing the kids did was learn some basic martial arts moves. Eddie showed him or her the basic stances, and then demonstrated how to flip a person, giving each kid a chance. Finally, Eddie presented them with rare gifts called paper cuts: beautifully colored designs cut out of very thin paper that is so delicate that wet hands could make them dissolve. They were his special treat for the group.
The CULTUREALL staff had a wonderful time with the kids last week and we hope to be able to spend time with them again soon!
Did you child attend Culture Camp? What was their favorite experience, please share with us!