Understanding other cultures, and the range of challenges people from all societies face, is brought to the classroom by individuals who grew up in other countries, often under conditions of severe duress. Before they arrive, students are required to research aspects of the other country’s culture and have specific questions and concerns they wish to address.
Theo Martey, who grew up in Accra, Ghana, is the founder and director of the Akwaaaba Ensemble. An internationally acclaimed musician, Theo and his group immerse students in African songs, rhythms, cultures and dance, then perform together for classmates and parents.
Akwaaba Ensemble brings high-energy West African drumming and dance performance that demonstrate the subtle rhythmic patterns and styles specific to different tribal groups. Students learn and practice several songs during workshops, then join the group on stage for public performances.
Abdullah Alsultan (right) compares and contrasts histories, cultures, and religions of his native Saudi Arabia with those of the U.S., helping to break down stereotypes, promote understanding, and build mutual respect.
Denis Okema and Ayuen Ajok work with students to help raise funds to install a clean water well in Juba, South Sudan.
Rebecca Odongkara, founder of the UNIFAT school in Uganda, discussing the effects of conflict and disease on children. With an enrollment of 1300, the school provides educational opportunity for AIDS and war orphans.
Working with Kingsley, students founded the Education Prevents Recruitment project to support the education of Ogoni Nigerian children. In addition to collecting school supplies, students raised money to help meet the costs of tuition and school uniforms.
Katilin Papp (black in the black blouse behind the painting), a Slovakian Roma artist, brings Slovakian childrens’ artwork to introduce the ongoing prejudice and hostility faced by Roma people, and as a means of identifying and breaking down stereotypes. This project was co-organized with Breana Copp (rear, left).
A certified guide and educator, Fernando provides eco-educational tours throughout Ecuadorian rain forests and agricultural environments. In the classroom he leads students in discussions on the vital role of rainforests in global sustainability, and factors affecting the human rights of indigenous peoples. He brought women-made crafts, sales of which support their micro-economic business.
Chief Joseph Ole Topinko and his wife Cicilia shared stories and answered questions about life as a Masai in Kenya, Africa, where drought has impacted all aspects of village life. Students raised $5,550 for the Masai Good Salvage Outreach Fund.
Led by Chief Joseph Ole Topinko and his wife Cicilia, students learn Masai cultural norms by re-enacting a traditional wedding ceremony.
Denis Okema (3rd row, 2nd from left), recruited as a child soldier at age 9 in Uganda, shares experiences of captivity and escape. He discusses the impact of conflict on the social fiber of developing countries, and strategies for reconciliation, peace and sustainability.
Denis Okema receives thanks after leading a classroom discussion about reconciliation as a strategy to resolve conflict.
Ayuen, a “Lost Boy from Sudan” (2nd row, 2nd from the left) helps students understand the critical need for access to clean water in many developing countries.