Friday, November 3, 2017

Windham Christian Academy students and teachers experienced a cross-cultural education by Lorraine Glowczak

Lesley Lou speaks about the culture of Taiwan
The Windham Christian Academy’s kindergarten through sixth grade students and teachers received an opportunity to discover the Taiwanese culture on two consecutive Fridays, October 20 and October 27. 
Lesley Lou, a student from Taiwan who had recently been living for a brief time with her aunt, Nini Bennett and her family of Windham, introduced the Academy students to songs and stories of Taiwan as well as her native language, Chinese. 

 “The first week she came, she told us all about Taiwan, including its landscape, beliefs, places to visit and food,” explained Jackie Sands, Principal at Windham Christian Academy (WCA.) “Most interesting was Taipei 101, which was the tallest building in the world until 2011. Lesley told the students you can walk out onto a glass observatory and see the entire city of Taipei, Taiwan’s capital.” second week entailed Lou sharing common phrases spoken in Chinese. Students enjoyed the different aspects of this language that has little in common with English. While some liked learning how to say words such as mom and dad, others enjoyed the written portion. “It was cool to see the real writing in Chinese,” stated fourth grader, Emily. 

Lou, who speaks other languages, is learning to speak English and this is the reason she came to Windham for a brief stay. Volunteering at WCA also assisted her with the details of English. 

“Nini Bennett came to me and asked if we had any place for her niece to volunteer as she was trying to better her English while in the United States for a short period of time,” explained Sands. “I thought the best place for her to volunteer would be in the elementary classroom sharing her culture and language with the students. We were excited to introduce a cross-cultural experience without having to leave the classroom. It was decided that Lesley would come for once a week for two weeks and spend twenty minutes in each of the elementary classrooms from Kindergarten through 6th grade.”  

Although it is true that Lou’s experience at WCA helped her in her quest to learn more about the English language, her presence and presentations helped both WCA students and staff to learn more about the world. “I think it’s important for students to think of the world on a global scale rather than just what they know.  It helps broaden their mind, enriches their life experience and gives them an understanding of others,” stated Sands.

Lou with students at WCA
Sands also shared that when Lou was asked if there was anything Americans ate that she found odd, Lou responded that she thought eating deer meat was very peculiar. “[Deer meat] is something most students have in their freezer,” explained Sands. “This was eye-opening to students.”

Lou returned to Taiwan at the beginning of the week, and due to recent electrical outages, was not interviewed. But according to Sands, Lou enjoyed the fresh Maine air. Lou had expressed that Taiwan’s air quality was not the same as Maine’s and that is what she loved the best. “This surprised several of the teachers,” Sands said.

The goal of cross-cultural and global knowledge was obtained. Sands stated it best in regards to what the teachers learned about Taiwan’s air pollution, “We take for granted what we have in Maine sometimes."

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