Living and working overseas taught me the importance and joy of celebrating the cultural diversity of my students. Celebrating cultural events raises awareness among students and staff. Exploring the varied ethnic cultural diversity of students through cultural celebrations gives children a taste of ethnic customs, food, dance, language and dress. It’s an exciting way to involve everyone in a no pressure environment where learning takes place naturally.
In Germany I included local celebrations in my plans. Students enjoy sharing little gifts on December 6th, which is the European St. Nicholas Day. In German custom bad children receive a lump of coal and good children receive small gifts. Another special celebration that all small school children in Germany celebrate is the receiving of their Schultute , a giant cone filled with sweets and treats to take away the bitterness of school starting. Directions to make your own Schultute.
When I taught on the island of Guam we celebrated United Nations Day with a day long celebration of costumes from cultures around the world and a musical program where students and staff shared songs and instruments around the world. Through our experiences we learned about new foods, ways of life and activities that raised awareness of cultures different than our own. In each of these very different cultures teachers brought the culture of our “second home” to life through customs and experiences that drew children closer to each other, while teaching them more about their second home culture.