Carly Huff taught at M.S. 8 in Jamaica, Queens.
A Cultural Exploration
Teaching in Jamaica, Queens this past summer with Practice Makes Perfect (PMP) changed me immensely as a person and future teacher. By far, one of my favorite days of the program was our World Day celebration. On the first Friday of our program, both classes at our school combined to have a cultural celebration that lasted all day. We explored cultures from around the world: specifically Asia (Japan, China, Korea, Thailand), Africa (Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia), The Caribbean (Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados), Latin America (Colombia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico), and India. Students were divided into groups and rotated from table-to-table, exploring different cultures. Each station had a Teaching Fellow and/or Mentor at it who either represented that culture or was an expert on it. Each station involved an informational poster, a flag from the countries, and a fun activity or two. The Latin American, Caribbean, and Asian tables had cultural foods for the students to try; the Indian table gave out Henna, the Asian table completed Chinese lanterns and calligraphy, and the African table practiced traditional African dancing.
The experience was immersive and educational. What made this experience so interesting and rewarding was the variance in cultural knowledge the students had. While the students were largely from a Caribbean, African, or Latin American background—and were for the most part experts on these cultures—they still learned things they did not know about these cultures, and certainly learned things they did not know about Indian and Asian cultures.
It was incredibly gratifying to share this experience with our students and to talk with them about the experience for the remainder of the program. In fact, this day was such a hit with our group that our end of summer celebration was culturally themed, with a group representing Asia by practicing karate, a group dancing to Caribbean music, and a group singing and dancing Spanish music. The World Day celebration shaped the summer I had in Jamaica, Queens with PMP and I know it will stick with our students for some time.
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