In early November, Columbus, Ohio, celebrated our annual International Festival. Our huge Vets' Memorial center was colorful with booths of many cultures, crafts, clothes, delicious smelling food , activities for children and continuous performances in music and dance representing the diversity of communities living in central Ohio. As always, my eyes were on the children!
Many many young children were dressed in the clothing of their family's backgrounds. Bright reds and golds, tunics and saris, headbands and fishermen's caps, ribbons, lace and leathers, the children brightened every moment of the festival. For the first time in years, young children were part of the performances, singing and dancing their rich traditions . They brought down the house!
Through the festival days (I am always a performer, volunteer, MC, whatever they want me to do) beneath the sights and sounds of the festivities, an old familiar song kept flowing through my mind."You've got to be taught before it's too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate everybody your relatives hate, you've got to be carefully taught..." (from South Pacific.)
We needed to remember the powerful gifts each culture offers. We need to hear people speaking in the language of their homelands. We need to taste their food and appreciate their style of dress, listen to their songs (even though we may not understand the words , we feel the messages). Our children need to know that the world is made up of many kinds of peoples but we are all part of one incredible family- the human family.
Not all communities in our country are as lucky as Columbus,Ohio, to offer such multicultural experiences. That makes the challenge of helping our children learn about and love the wonders of the diverse citizens of our planet even greater. We need to start with ourselves --examine our own attitudes, honestly explore our own convictions.
"Before I teach others, I must teach myself." (Sylva Ashton-Warner) Our communication (verbal and non verbal) our behavior, our beliefs are demonstrated in everything we say and do. We can create communities of learning for our children where they learn to love and respect themselves, each other and others they meet in this ever widening world. That is our hope! That is our journey!
Enjoy the adventure! Peace and Love, Mimi
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, consultant, teacher, author-
Teaching By Heart, Celebrating Young Children and Their Teachers
are available directly from Mimi.
Her text, Creative Experiences For Young Children is available by ordering from Heinemann