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Around the world in three days

During Woodbury Elementary's "Literacy Around the World" kickoff event guest speakers from all walks of life and cultures read stories and held discussions about their themes with students and parents. Staff photo by Amber Kispert

Everyone has a heritage. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a culture.

Woodbury Elementary is hoping to connect its students to their family history and cultures, as well as those of their classmates, through its "Multicultural Literacy Around the World" events.

The kickoff event, which drew a total of 40 students, was held on March 5 and two family share days are scheduled to be held on March 10 and 13.

"The idea for this program comes from our desire to learn about other people and their cultures and traditions," John Flavin, first grade teacher and event coordinator, said. "If we don't know some things, we often choose not to deal or interact with them; in knowing others' roots it becomes easier to find common ground within our diverse world."

During the kickoff event, students and families were treated to an assortment of stories from around the world that focused on the universal themes of family, education and community.

"All people love to hear stories and it is natural to place ourselves into stories and empathize with the characters," Flavin said. "Also, people have a curiosity, I believe, to see and hear how other people live their lives; their social mores, beliefs and proverbs to live by."

Even though a lot of the stories focused on cultural heritage and traditions, those aren't the only things that identify an individual's culture.

A person's culture can include anything from their ethnicity to their religion but also whether they come from a rural, urban or suburban area or even how many people are in their family.

Even though the main goal is to simply provide enjoyment and entertainment for the students and their family, there are several other deeper goals of the event as well, Flavin said.

Some of those deeper goals include; to allow families an opportunity to identify with and share their cultural traditions and to interact with other families, and realize that learning is a lifelong adventure.

"Our cultural heritage influences us whether we realize it or not," Flavin said. "And learning about other people's cultures shows us the world is right in our backyard."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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