• Students explore world at International Day

  • Students from the four post schools “visited” 17 different countries during Unified School District 207’s fourth annual International Day April 26 in the Patton Junior High School gym.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Students from the four post schools “visited” 17 different countries during Unified School District 207’s fourth annual International Day April 26 in the Patton Junior High School gym.
    “It is to celebrate our international families that are an important part of our school community and the Fort Leavenworth community at large,” said SuAnn Grant, USD 207 deputy superintendent. “Celebrating our cultures, our similarities and differences adds to the public school education that all our students here in Kansas receive.
    “Our main goal is to increase a learning opportunity for them,” she said. “This provides a hands-on visual experience for them to ‘travel’ to countries that they potentially may have already been to and possibly may go to (in the future).”
    Several students said certain countries stood out to them.
    Julianna Spring, Patton seventh-grader, said she liked Germany.
    “They have a lot of books and things to read about the country and just a lot of information,” she said. “I think this is a really good experience, especially for the younger kids to get to see everything, just because (the international families) are in our community and they live in our community. It is a smart idea.”
    Madi Boyles, Patton eighth-grader, said she was intrigued by the Netherlands.
    “They have cool accents and language that they speak,” Boyles said. “It is just really cool to see the differences.”
    To further add to the experience, the students had passports specific to their age groups. Younger students had stamp passports while the older students had fact sheets which were more in-depth.
    “It is an educational focus with fun,” Grant said.
    Several of the vendors had multiple facts to share with the students, as well as display items such as their native jewelry and clothing.
    Aleksandra Donevski of Macedonia, wife of Maj. Mile Donevski, Command and General Staff Officer Course student, wrote students’ names in the Macedonian alphabet and showed them native clothing that has been in her family for more than 100 years.
    “I want the children to hear about our country because we are a small country in Europe and most of the kids, they don’t know about our country,” Donevski said. “When they grow up maybe they will want to come and visit our country because we have a lot of places for tourism.”
    Asuman Sagir of Turkey, wife of Maj. Abdullah Sagir, CGSOC student, told students about different tourist attractions, Turkish food and famous landmarks.
    “In America, people don’t know much about Turkey,” Sagir said. “It is a really nice country, especially for tourists. We have a lot of beaches and a lot of natural beauties.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Not only did the event allow soldiers and spouses to teach students about their countries, but the students were able to teach their classmates. This was the case for Patton seventh-grader Alia Oumar-Doro of Niger.
    “I want to show to people how beautiful my country is,” she said. “We have a lot of stories to tell people. I want to tell them how we really work hard to make our country beautiful.”
    Oumar-Doro told her classmates about the national flag, the W National Park, and how they make many of their items such as necklaces and coasters from beef skin.
    Because of the Command and General Staff College’s international program, many of the elementary school students are already exposed to other countries through their classmates, which teachers agreed sparked their curiosity even more.
    “We have a little boy in our class from Australia, so I’ve seen a lot of my kids really enjoy the Australia booth just because they’ve been able to relate to that,” said MacArthur Elementary School second-grade teacher Kristina Whorton. “It is great that they get to learn about different cultures and see the different holidays and things their friends celebrate that is different from what they’ve grown up with.”
    Ariane Smith, MacArthur second-grade teacher, said being surrounded by families from different countries is just as much of a learning opportunity for her as it is for her students.
    “Not only do they get to express their culture, but I get to express mine as well,” Smith said. “I haven’t lived in a different country, but I am from another state, and I am able to immerse my children in that culture and they’re able to immerse me in theirs.
    “It is important to celebrate our differences and to celebrate those cultures and make people understand that this is what makes America beautiful. The differences are what make us great,” she said. “I hope that they understand that the world is much bigger than they are while understanding that they are important to the world as well. That is huge for them to understand and I think it is important for them to understand that everyone has a difference of opinion, everyone has a different culture that they celebrate and just because it is different doesn’t mean that it is bad.”
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