International Week informs students of foreign cultures

Since 1996, International Week has been a part of the middle and high school curriculum with the goal of broadening students’ understanding of other cultures.

By Marian Siljeholm

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  Since 1996, International Week has been a part of the middle and high school curriculum with the goal of broadening students’ understanding of other cultures.

  This year, China, Ireland, and Cambodia, and the Dominican Republic, among others, were included in he curriculum.

  In coordination with other language department staff, department head Michelle Magana oversaw the planning and speaker assignments for the week, which incorporated new additions of Guatemala, Liberia, and China.

  “It’s been great having student help as well,” Spanish teacher Robert Bilsbury said. “Freshman Charlie Hoff was instrumental in helping with technical aspects.”  

  Among the speakers were Martha Cox, who presented about Spain, Tom Paradis (Dominican Republic), Greg Caroll (Liberia), and Tamera Burns (Egypt).                                                                                                                                           

  Student speakers included seniors Olivia Peterson and Ben White, who spoke about their trip to Ireland, and junior Anny Carr, who presented on Spain.

  Bilsbury especially enjoyed the China presentation, which Kevin Heffernan, freshman Anna Heffernan’s dad, presented. He felt the presentation was both “informational” and “innovative” regarding the rapidly growing nation.

  The kitchen staff also played a role, offering meals planned to match each day’s theme.

  Conceptually, the idea originated under former department head Dr. Nicole Sherf, in an effort to incorporate community into the language department.

  Junior Haley Woodman said the International Week assemblies were beneficial.

  “The assemblies are a nice break from regular class,” junior Haley Woodman said. “The week gives a new perspective and teaches us to not define another country or culture by our own capitalistic standards.”

  The themes for the week depend largely on speaker availability and the cafeteria’s capabilities. This year, Bilsbury was especially pleased with the efforts saying, “The foreign language department is so happy about how well the cafeteria does; they go all out and it’s really amazing.”

  Speakers are all voluntary, mostly responding to the school’s online advertisement.

   Next year, the Rotary Club will sponsor foreign high school exchange students as speakers.

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Invisible Children raises awareness, touches students

In a time where it seems as though the human race is growing more selfish than ever before, the eye-opening experience of Invisible Children’s presentation at our school and the overwhelming response that followed it was a breath of fresh air for the school community.

By Maura Driscoll

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  In a time where it seems as though the human race is growing more selfish than ever before, the eye-opening experience of Invisible Children’s presentation at our school and the overwhelming response that followed it was a breath of fresh air for the school community.

  On March 11, representatives from the Invisible Children organization visited the school to inform people about the turmoil taking place in poverty-ridden Uganda, a country where brutal war and violence has plagued its inhabitants for years.

  The representatives, or “roadies,” as they are affectionately called, donate months of their time and an incredible amount of effort into spreading awareness about the cause, speaking to schools and other groups about the situation in Uganda.

  As a part of their presentation, the roadies showed a film produced by the organization called “Tony,” which tells the story of a young Ugandan man whose education was supported by Invisible Children and who was eventually brought to the United States to educate Americans about his homeland.

  Though often in the public eye due to its heavy support by various celebrities, news of Invisible Children’s efforts had yet to reach the ears of students here. When it was announced that an assembly would be held during the day, students were excited, not because they wanted to learn more about the cause, but instead because they would be missing class.

  However, within five minutes into the presentation, that carefree sentiment evaporated from the auditorium as the mood shifted drastically from a fun way to get out of class to a serious, emotional atmosphere.

  As an avid supporter of Invisible Children and the individual responsible for their visit to our school, I was overjoyed that this urgent cause for action was receiving such a positive reaction from students and faculty alike.

  After the presentation had finished, the roadies set up tables selling merchandise and accepting donations. By glancing at the massive crowd surrounding the group, asking questions, and willingly offering up any spare cash, it was glaringly obvious that students had not viewed this assembly as just a way to get out of class for an hour.

  Not only did Invisible Children bring awareness to the school’s community regarding the tragedies that are often overlooked in Africa, but it also educated and touched the student body in a way that I had never seen before.

  Rather than allow this issue to disappear, it’s imperative that we get involved in the cause however we can. On April 25, Invisible Children is sponsoring the 25 campaign, where participants will be silent for 25 hours in order to raise awareness for the thousands silenced by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa.

  All proceeds of this event will be used to fund the Invisible Children Protection Plan in Africa, a project aimed at aiding communication and rehabilitation to the victims of the LRA. 

Please visit www.invisiblechildren.com/25 for more information on how to join the movement.

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