CCT, Culture, and Kids!

Last night, Prof. Dedaic’s Intercultural Communications class got the opportunity to participate in Multicultural Night at Matthew Maury Elementary School in Alexandria, VA.

We were all charged with displaying something unique about our culture, and our diverse group had all the bases covered. From Europe, to Asia to Africa and back to the Americas, we showcased dance, music, food, art and other interesting customs and traditions.

The kids at Maury, K-5, were amazing- far smarter than I was when I was a child. Maybe I am out of touch, but I must admit, I was nervous that these kids were going to boo us off stage. But not only did they seem to enjoy our performances, they were eager to participate further in the workstations we set up after each presentation.

The great thing about children is their amazement at all things new.  Their “wow” moments were endless, and they seemed earnestly intrigued by each performance.  Their jaws dropped when they saw pictures of the lit Eiffel Tower. The scrambled to get in line for their turn to learn Chinese paper cutting, and they nearly knocked me down to find out what their Ghanaian name, based on the day of the week that they were born, reveals about their personality!

What struck me the most was the children’s eagerness to learn about different cultural customs. It was interesting to see that for the children, multicultural means multi-continent, and even still, their cultural receptiveness is high. Perhaps it’s because I don’t remember having multicultural nights in elementary school, but I don’t recall being as excited about cultural activities when I was their age.

And it wouldn’t be CCT without a tidbit on technology. One of our performers announced that he would need to connect his iPhone to a laptop to play music for the dance that he would teach the children.  I thought to myself, “Oh that’s convenient.” Then I looked around to see the kids’ reaction to the iPhone connection, and no one flinched. Then I thought, why would they? For a lot of these kids, the iPod was the first portable music device they ever used.  Yep, yep. It’s official. I’m old.

It was a truly enriching experience that, at the risk of shamelessly plugging my program, made me love all that makes CCT what it is.