Learning to Connect Cultures in the New World Languages Department Course
SAYVILLE WORLD LANGUAGES TEACHER JULIA SERGISON EXPLAINS WHAT'S MAKING THIS OFFERING POPULAR
“Connecting Cultures is a new course in the World Languages Department at the high school that exposes students to competing worldviews and issues as they explore the customs and languages of different cultures. Through activities centered on cross-cultural comparisons, students are developing an awareness of the attitudes and challenges facing local and global communities. Through our studies, we are learning that empathy, appreciation, and respect for others are essential to be able to actively and effectively engage in the world.
“Over the course of the first quarter, students have studied cultures both local and abroad including El Salvador, Haiti, Algeria, Ukraine, and Kenya. In class, we often listen to popular music, play typical games, eat traditional foods, and speak with community members in order to make stronger connections to a culture that, at first, might seem very foreign. Through these activities and discussions, students learn that the cultures have much in common with their own.
“In a recent lesson, students had the opportunity to conduct an interview with an American living and working abroad in Kenya. Austen Stranahan, is a California native who moved to Nairobi a little under two years ago to work for a technology company. Students were shocked to learn that this capital city was full of tech start-ups in 20-story skyscrapers. They also dropped their jaws at the mention of monkeys hanging out in his backyard. Students created the interview questions after a few days of studying Kenya and also spontaneously asked more when the discussion led them to new insight or intrigue.
“After such a fun day of learning from Austen, students requested another video chat abroad. Our virtual trip to Amsterdam is scheduled for next week! After that, we will take an actual field trip to collaborate with and learn from the Long Island Japanese Culture Center. Students will partake in language learning, sushi making, calligraphy writing, and traditional ikebana flower arranging.”
For more photos and videos, go to Photo Album of "Connecting Cultures."