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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Showing students the broader world

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Feb. 16, 2017

My wife, Kay, transferred from Charter Grove country school to a Sycamore school called Southeast Elementary more than 60 years ago when it was brand new. She and I returned there recently at the invitation of her nephew Steven Wirsing, whose daughter Clara’s class was celebrating Multicultural Day.

This special study project was begun eight years ago by third-grade teacher Kyla Hueber, who said, “As a part of our social studies unit, we study different cultures, celebrations and customs. … Many students were interested in where their families came from … and we had them research a country of their choice.”

Southeast Elementary third grade teacher Lynelle Lynd explains the reason behind Multicultural Day to parents and guests in her classroom recently (Barry Schrader photo)

She and another teacher, Lynelle Lynd, have continued this effort involving weeks of study culminating in the one-day event.

Pupils each report on two facts they have learned about another country, whether it’s their ancestral homeland or some other nation they find interesting. Then some of the parents bring in a native food from the country to share with everyone who attends. Hueber brought in an old family recipe – flatbread from Norway. Lynd prepared Swedish rice pudding, one of my wife’s favorites since her mother’s ancestors came from Sweden. Thank goodness she didn’t bring another Swedish delicacy – lutefisk – which would have smelled up the whole school!

Anyway, I learned some new facts that day about countries such as China, Mexico, Poland, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Sweden, Italy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Australia, Egypt, Germany, Kenya, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Russia, Georgia, Greece, Brazil and Sweden. Now I can tell you what five countries border Slovakia (just ask me).

The teachers bring in speakers from other countries, whether that person is a relative of a third-grader, an exchange student, or an international scholar at Northern Illinois University. What a wonderful experience for these youngsters to learn firsthand from people from other cultures, religions and ethnicities.

When I was in school at Genoa, I never knew anyone from outside the U.S., not until I went off to NIU and joined the International Students Association. I have continued contacts with people from other nations as much as possible, most recently through the Network of Nations involving college students from dozens of countries. It really broadens your horizon and makes you realize we are a minority in the world of nations.

So kudos to those teachers and others like them for affording young people the opportunity to become acquainted with places and people they will someday have to interact with, hopefully in harmony and not in war.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115