Five Reasons Why I Love CultureALL (and Why you Should, Too) – Part 1
Several years ago, I met a woman named Sherry Gupta. She had founded a non-profit organization called World of Difference, and she wanted to talk to me about writing grant proposals for her organization. She told me about a group of people she had recruited as “Cultural Ambassadors” – individuals from other countries around the world who now made their homes in Iowa and wanted to share their cultural traditions with others. It sounded interesting, but at the time, there was little I could do to help. My schedule was full, and World of Difference did not yet have the resources to hire me.
Since that time, I heard about some of the work that World of Difference was doing, but I never made time to investigate. With so many organizations and events competing for my (somewhat limited) entertainment and charitable dollars, I want to have a lot of information before I invest my time or money.
When my friend Maureen Korte became Director of Educational Programs at World of Difference (which had changed its name to CultureALL), she kept waxing rhapsodic about the organization and all of the wonderful programs it offered to the community. Then Sherry asked me if I would like to write some grant proposals for CultureALL, and I decided it was time to go out and see for myself what this organization was all about.
Which brings me to the first of Five Reasons I Love CultureALL:
Reason One: CultureALL in the Classroom:
This spring, I observed one of CultureALL’s Multi-Cultural Days at an elementary school, and here’s what I saw: In every classroom, at every grade level, students were actively engaged in learning about another culture. They were singing Latin American cowboy songs. They were playing African drums. They were doing the tango (steps only because they were at that age when the idea of touching someone of the opposite sex is “yucky.”) They were learning words in other languages, trying on native costumes, and acting out stories. They were enchanted, and so was I.
In the past 8 years, more than 100,000 K-12 students in 95 schools in 33 Iowa school districts have experienced the magic of CultureALL In The Classroom. Not only are they learning new things about other cultures, they are learning to connect what they learn to their other subjects. How music connects to math. How the food we eat and how we build our homes relates to climate science. How the rights we enjoy as U.S. citizens are not the same for people in other parts of the world.
These are lessons worth learning. But there’s something else, something I think is infinitely more important. They are learning not to fear “the other” – that people who look different, dress differently, or speak a different language are intelligent, decent, funny, talented, beautiful people. That when it comes right down to it, we are all just People. It creates empathy. It encourages them to be a little kinder – to their classmates, and to anyone who is different. The world needs that kindness right now. And CultureALL helps to create it.
Stay Tuned for Part Two…
By the way, until midnight June 2, you can donate to CultureALL by making a pledge to the Principal Charity Classic’s Birdies for Charity event. Through this event last year, our community donated more than $14,000 to CultureALL. To help us beat that total, click here:
And if you want more information on how – and why – you should support CultureALL, check out this dandy video that explains it all: http://youtu.be/lQK_RtO0g8I