Students learn how to find the country on a world map and about the country’s leader. In addition to lessons about cultural practices and rituals, they learn to count, traditional greetings, and basic words and phrases in the country’s language. The program supplements the education received in school while preparing youth to succeed in an increasingly global society.
The children are exposed to the culture of Arab regions by activities such as watching videos of Egyptian singer/songwriter Oum Kulthoum. Arab dining practices were explored while sitting on the floor in a circle while practicing Arabic words for food as well as greetings. The children are learning to write and count in Arabic. "Learning a second language gives me a head start on getting my education," said 10-year old Amarion Johnson. He currently knows 1-10. "I'm looking forward to learning the rest of the numbers in Arabic," Amarion said, noting that the first thing he would do when teaching someone else Arabic would be to teach them how to count.
Students studying China are not only learning words and numbers, but also Chinese sign language and its similarities to American Sign Language. Cultural education includes learning the Chinese Dance of the Dragon, studying famous Chinese inventors, and trying on traditional Chinese conical hats while discussing the history and purpose of the gear. The students have passports. They visit each “country” for several weeks, get their passport stamped, then move on to the next country.
The children’s lessons vary, depending on their grade level. Students have colored a country’s flag and learned the significance of the colors or symbols on the flag, they have had math competitions in Spanish, and they have made maracas for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Students are gaining language and literacy skills while building confidence, self-esteem and the importance of accepting, as well as celebrating the diversity of people.
Quality Life Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization transforming the community by developing the potential of underserved populations in southwest Florida with afterschool, family services and job development training. For more than 20 years, the “Q” has been instilling values of discipline, integrity and self-sufficiency. To learn more about Quality Life Center or to sign up for the next tour date, call Jan at 333.2100 ext. 6 or visit www.qualitylifecenter.org.