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Thinking Globally During International Week

Students and staff participated in the annual International Week recently to foster increased global awareness among students and staff.  The week consisted of a door decorating contest, global lessons, international menus in the cafeteria, and an international festival held at Unionville Elementary for the Piedmont cluster.  According to World Language teacher Laura Nicholson, “During International Week the students observe that they are not alone, that the world is bigger than what they see in their everyday lives.”

International Week has become known for the rather competitive door and building competitions that occur.  Teachers and students work hard to research their chosen country in the days leading up to International Week in hopes that their door will be selected as either the most creative or most educational.  Once again this year, the World Language Department was the winner of the Best Building Award, with Sherry Edwards’ display winning Most Creative.  Ms. Speck, Ms. Higginbotham, and Ms. Weidenhammer claimed the prize for the Most Educational displays.  According to Global Committee Chair Angela Medlin, “The door decorating contest is not only fun and competitive but a great opportunity for students to learn about various countries as they pass by the displays on the way to classes.” 

Integrating global lessons into the instruction during International Week is another focus for teachers.  Students in Mrs. Clemmer’s Foods Science classes enjoyed learning about the native cuisine from their country and actually prepared the food to taste.  Math teacher Jennifer Guignard presented “Mongolian Moments” each day to further expose her students to the culture of Mongolia.  According to Guignard, “The classroom had Mongolian decorations inside the classroom that related to our different Mongolian Moments.  There was an eagle perched on my Smartboard, camels on the walls, a banner with the flag hanging from the ceiling, an ice cream cone above the door, and a map of Mongolia on the wall.”  

Piedmont’s AP Calculus class had the opportunity of meeting a Piedmont High School 2009 graduate, Mary Elizabeth Gaston also known as Meg, who has traveled around the world. She participates in a program that introduces volunteers to organic farming and societies in different countries. She came back from a trip in which she spent over a year living in South Korea and Japan.  The highlight of her visit was sharing with us “Morning Exercises”, a workout that everyone participates in before starting their day in Japan.  Meg explained the different parts of traveling she liked best and shared with us different cultural differences. When asked where she will be in twenty years, Meg responded, “Not in the USA.” She plans to continue her travels around the world.

The World Language Department celebrates International Week in a variety of ways and uses the opportunity to expose their students additional cultures from around the world.  According to Laura Nicholson, “I love International Week! It is a perfect time to come together as a whole school and learn about many countries around the world. This year, our country was the Philippines, and they enjoyed researching to learn many exciting and important facts. For example, they learned that the Philippines is the world's leading producer of coconuts and that their official languages are English and Filipino. They were also surprised to find out that there has been both Spanish and American influence for centuries in the islands.”  One interesting fact students discovered through their research was that the Filipino folktale The Man With the Coconuts goes hand-in-hand with our values and is our version of The Tortoise and the Hare." 

The cafeteria staff also gets involved with the International Week festivities by providing international menus.  Chicken curry from India, Cordon Bleu sandwiches from France, burrito pie from Mexico, and chicken alfredo from Italy were among the options offered to students. 

One final event was the International Festival held at Unionville Elementary.  This event allows students from various clubs and activities at Piedmont to participate in the festival through dance, fashion, food, and displays.  According to Nicholson, “My desire was for the students to see that we are not all too different but more alike than we think. I believe we accomplished this!”

Written by: Donna Helms - Web Editor
Posted: May 27, 2015 by Donna Helms

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